Where does Cuba stand now?

A quote from Fidel’s speech at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party in April 2016.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Dec 1, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

This post is more in-depth analysis about Cuba’s predicament than my previous post which focused on Fidel’s recent death. I could note the health programs in Cuba, the visit of the Vietnamese president to Cuba even as that country(Vietnam) has thoroughly surrendered itself to “the market,” education programs on the island, or other aspects. But, I’d like to instead focus on the recent “normalization” in Cuba since 2014.

Recent articles have noted the possible (and likely) change of tone when it comes to Cuba. Bloomberg declared that the orange menace will need to “balance his pro-growth economic plans and allegiance to business with the hard-line campaign pledges” which connect with his promise to “reverse the improved U.S. relations with Cuba forged by President Barack Obama,” unless the nation accepts bourgeois freedoms, the former which is at odds with those corporations who are “hoping for a foothold there” such as those in the “wheat, corn…soymeal…raw sugar and energy product” industries, assumedly. [1] Some say that by taking a “hardline” position he will be at odds with the “U.S. business community” (and Jeff Flake), such as the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, but supported by Republicans Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Other articles note that if the orange menace reverses the “normalization” it will hurt companies like Best Buy, WalMart, JetBlue, Starwood, Carnival, American Airlines, and Airbnb, who want to expand their markets in Cuba, costing them, apparently, “hundreds of millions of dollars” as possible tourism (mainly from the US) would dissipate. [2] Some writers even thought that the orange menace would embolden the “hardliners” in Cuba (presumably those who are more critical of involvement with the U$), according to supposed “Cuba experts,” apart from Raul Castro who has instituted some market-related measures on the island, which could be considered a form of revisionism.

In order to go forward, it is important to consider three viewpoints on the situation. One of these is by RancidSassy (also called “ that Obama’s “mild normalization of relations with the Cuban state” will lead to further domination. They worry about the “vicious plan to complete the domination of Cuba, probably ending in its total recolonization by financial capital” which was “more like a declaration of war,” writing that this “imperial scheming” (or diplomacy as it is often called) needs to be interrupted like Chelsea Manning did. Sassy goes further to talk about the failed assassination plots, the USAID program (and fake Twitter), and that U$ embassies are “basically just CIA offices.” He worried about Raul Castro praising Obama and the Pope, noting how “liberals dressed as radicals,” like CodePink’s Medea Benjamin, Mother Jones‘s David Corn, self-indulgent journalist Jeremy Scahill, writer Max Blumenthal, and advocate Yosef Munayyer, praised this rhetoric. He went on to talk about Cuban exiles in Miami, propaganda aimed at Cuba coupled with the blockade which was “loose” enough to allow U$ agribusiness to trade stable foods to the Cuban government, how the Zionist state is “useful to the empire as a giant spaceship of white capitalism in a typically resistant Middle East,” and said liberals (and others on the left) aren’t worrying about “an empire that has spent the last century or more systematically binding the peoples of the world to its political and financial will.”

I think Sassy has a good point. Already the naval base in Guantanamo, the U$ embassy in Havana, and U$ overt (ex: USAID) and covert (ex: CIA) are projecting imperialism onto Cuba. If this one agrees with this argument, then well-meaning radicals should resist the “normalization” of relations, since a “fair” compromise with the empire is likely impossible. If there are “hardliners” in Cuba, like in Iran, as one could call them, then these forces should be encouraged. This presidency, managing the murderous empire, which seems poised to reverse the “vicious plan to complete the domination of Cuba” as Sassy put it, and would allow for these “hardliners” to have more room to breathe and grow, leading a possibly stronger counter against U$ imperialism. This could be especially the case after 2018 when Raul Castro will step down as President.

remedy the embarrassing situation that their country had wound up isolating itself during its attempts to isolate Cuba,” noting that groups like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) popped up, that were opposed to the U$, and that the Cubans for many years did not “undo their own revolution and surrender to the US under the worst possible terms, as was expected,” leading the country to become “a major powerhouse in healthcare and biotechnology” and building of the country’s “middle class.” The article goes on to say that the decision to reestablish relations with the island dates back to 2007 when a major law firm, Alston & Bird, which represents “financial service, healthcare, energy, and telecommunication companies,” had such a strong interest that they worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to challenge “the Florida ban on travel to Cuba.” The article also notes that reestablishing diplomatic relations was done simultaneously with the release of the Cuban Five, and later with removal of Cuba from “the list of countries that sponsor terrorism,” with the Cuban government having a “tough negotiating stance with US business.” Like Sassy, this writer notes that “the rollback of the US sanctions has been quite limited in terms of the restrictions on trade and investment” and that Cuba “remains dissatisfied and wary of the US,” with a continued push to close the illegal base at Guantanamo Bay, as negotiations continue, and that in exchange for opening its market to the U$, “Cuba wants equal access to the US market,” selling those in the U$ biotech and computer software products, while expanding their tourism industry. The writer concluded that

“Cuba has had enough experience with the Monroe Doctrine to know that the US goal will always be to turn it into a colony…the new wave of colonists…think that their work to undermine the Cuban Revolution will become easier after Cuba’s great hero Fidel Castro dies. This is partly the result of a US belief in its own propaganda…the US intention is clearly a Bay of Pigs invasion with a smile. The Cuban Revolution has enormous symbolic importance for people throughout the world who are fighting US domination, and the undoing of this revolution would be major psychological blow. The US is already hinting that it wants popular elections that it can manipulate…As ever, the Cuban revolution thrives while under attack; one can only hope that it will never imagine it is not.”

Chery, like Sassy, makes good points. I personally think that “popular elections” are what corrupted leftist parties in Angola and Mozambique, in part, to adopt more market-based approaches and slowly accept the capitalist model. One-party elections are vital if the Cuban Revolution is to be preserved. I will say that I do not think the normalization is “a Bay of Pigs invasion with a smile” as that would mean that it is covert and secret, along with including Cuban exiles. That isn’t true in this case, as the initiative is being led by the hunger of the U$ bourgeoisie to obtain new markets and push down “unfair” barriers, along with being assisted by Obama.

The last viewpoint examined here is that of James Early, who sits on the board of The Real News, an independent news organization which is better than Democracy Now! by far but is still within the “progressive” camp broadly. Early notes the history of Cuba, specifically describing it as having, before 1959, an economy owned 75% by the US, a “narco state…with Meyer Lansky and the US mafia dominating that as a playground with rampant prostitution, deep racism, and exploitation” and saying that while they “did repress” it was to uphold “certain virtues and to repress those things that go against the common good” and that we should recognize the “sometimes egregious failures” of the Cuban Revolution, none of which he names. He goes on to say that many left “because they feared communism…[or] wanted to take an opportunity to get out of the country and to increase their economic circumstances,” with many of these people as “Euro Cubans. Not people of color Cubans.” Early then talked about Cuban exiles, the “propaganda machine of the United States” distorting the reality in Cuba, the U$ State Department’s imperial role, and the horrible “wet foot, dry foot policy” which gives preferential treatment to Cuban exiles coming to the US. He adds that by criticizing those who have “dogmatic ideological perspectives [which] are ultra leftist” which reject any criticism (which he never expands on) of the Cuban Revolution, noting that “Cuba has made its own self critiques” while acknowledging the accomplishments, with great debate going on within the Communist Party, including “debating freedom of press and within Granma, the official news organ” and allowing criticism of the Communist Party in Cuba, with owning “up to errors” and that a personality like Fidel will not emerge in the future but that “we will see the same kind of humanistic policies…sharp debate on how to calibrate that…[and] draw[ing] a very hard straight line against monopoly, against excessive wealth…[and] maintain[ing] a socialist orientation.” He closes with words that are worth keeping in mind:

“…big capital in the United States…already made its peace with the failed policy overthrow the Cuban socialist revolution in a way that it has gone on for the last half century. They now feel that the flooding of the country with money and goods and consumer attitudes, they will be able to undermine and overturn that revolution. But in the process they want to make money. The Cubans have always preferred to fight and this new context within the protocols of nations, not having the United States outside as a rogue nation…I think we’ll see a mediation of that. I can envision that US capital will be pressing the Donald Trump regime to not overturn the fundamental issues that Barack Obama stepped forward…it’s going to be tough…I think we see the change in policies brought forth under the administration of Raul Castro.”

Early, like Sassy and Chery, also makes a valid point. However, I think he is hard on solidarity efforts with Cuba and a bit too optimistic in many respects. But, perhaps that is not wrong to be optimistic about Cuba, but at minimum he is almost downplaying the threat going forward.

My final thoughts

A poster designed by Mahmud Dawirji for the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) in circa 1980.

I think Cuba, like Iran, is at a crossroads. If the orange menace’s reverses the “normalization” the Obama administration has put in place in regards to Iran and Cuba, there will be undoubtedly new political developments, with the reported “hardliners” or more accurately those more wary and critical of imperial influence economically and otherwise, not in favor of such “normalization,” gaining more power. This could be good as it would be a needed setback from the Western-backed moderate reformists in Iran who are, as you could say, footsoldiers for the murderous empire.

As for Cuba, there is a real danger that it would be pulled into the neocolonial ring. Under no circumstances can those on the left, who are anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist, accept (or allow to best circumstances possible), a Cuba which is wholly occupied by a foreign power, embodied by the deceitful Teller Amendment, Platt Amendment, and deceptive “support” of the cause of “Cuba Libre” pushed by the anti-Spanish and anti-imperialist rebels. [3] Cuba has had a hold on the American imagination for many years, with brutal slaveowner Thomas Jefferson even declaring that Cuba should be part of the United States in 1809! Like in the past, there are some policymakers who believe that we have to stop “oppression at our very doors,” as President McKinley declared in justifying the Spanish-American War (and invasion of Spanish-controlled Cuba), and that we need to defend “Cuban rights” which translates to rights for multinational corporations to exploit and re-establish themselves, as Fidel put it in his speech on January 2, 1959, “masters of the country.” [4] Like in the past, the empire will not accept Cuba (and its democratic nationalism) due to its challenge to U$ influence including support of governments like those in Grenada. [5]

In order to recognize the challenges ahead, it is worth reflecting on the slave society in Cuba in the past. From the 1760s to the late 1830s, Cuba became a “community of large sugar and coffee plantations,” from an agrarian lifestyle with less population, and became valuable to the Spanish empire as the Cuban economy grew. [6] With new strife caused by the presence of thousands of enslaved blacks, with more than 400,000 imported into the island by one estimate, and dominance (and superiority) of the white (and somewhat restless Creole) plantation class, the U$ became a new market for Cuban sugar. [7] The number of enslaved blacks would increase from 38,900 in 1775 to 436,495 persons, in the “faithful colony,” a term which refers to planter dependence on Spain. [8] By the 1860s, Cuban sugar dominated the world market, with the island as the largest producer of sugar, buttressed by an illegal slave trade. [9] Slavery was abolished on the island in 1886 not because of an “internal collapse” of the system but acceleration of emancipation on the island, the Ten Year War in Cuba (1868-1878) led by small planters and insurgents who declared freedom of enslaved blacks under their control, and pressure from Cuban (and Spanish) abolitionists as plantation slavery became more “multicultural” (enslaved blacks, indentured Asians, black, white, and mixed race wage workers were part of the plantation work force). [10] Of course, the exploitation would continue under the form of wage labor and under the imperialist control of Cuba up until the Cuban Revolution’s success in 1959.

If multinational corporations again gain a strong foothold in Cuba and exert their dominance, this would not only be part of the imperialist octopus, which would be bringing its tentacles to its “former mistress,” but it would increase the exploitation of the population. There is no doubt that the Mafia and prostitution would come in full force to the island, but there would be the full force of racism and sexism making its imprint on society, along with more full-fledged sexual violence. Having U$ tourists on the island would also not lead to something positive, as it would be followed by the popular culture, Hollyweird, and elements of U$ culture.

While one should remain critical, there is one element that those who see themselves (correctly) as anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist in mind: solidarity. Building off what I said on Twitter, it is worth quoting the eighth term of admission into the Communist International in 1920:

“Parties in countries whose bourgeoisie possess colonies and oppress other nations must pursue a most well-defined and clear-cut policy in respect of colonies and oppressed nations. Any party wishing to join the Third International must ruthlessly expose the colonial machinations of the imperialists of its “own” country, must support—in deed, not merely in word—every colonial liberation movement, demand the expulsion of its compatriot imperialists from the colonies, inculcate in the hearts of the workers of its own country an attitude of true brotherhood with the working population of the colonies and the oppressed nations, and conduct systematic agitation among the armed forces against all oppression of the colonial peoples.”

While it has been 96 years since this was declared, the principles still apply. As I said on twitter, this could, most expansively be applied to many countries. In this current time, one would have to commit themselves, if they lived in North America, to opposing U$ imperialism in its form of colonialism in Puerto Rico and other “territories” (U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, United States Minor Outlying Islands, and Northern Marina Islands), neocolonialism in associated states (Micronesia, Palau, and Marshall Islands), and  manifested in the 500+ bases the US has across the world. [11] If they lived in Europe, for example, they would have to, under this logic, commit themselves to opposing imperialism of France and Britain, along with the United States, in the African continent, just to give an example. Obviously putting into action “systematic agitation among the armed forces against all oppression of the colonial peoples” and supporting colonial (and anti-imperialist) liberation movements would require organization. This means that the aims would go beyond just opposing the imperialism to actively working to stop it. But at minimum, this would consist of solidarity with oppressed nations, and opposing future US interventions [dead link], the “notion of American empire” [dead link]. Other than this, the rest is up to all of you. As always, I look forward to your comments.


Notes

[1] Benjamin Bain and Christine Jenkins, “Trump Walks Business-Politics Tightrope on Cuba After Castro,” Bloomberg Politics, November 28, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.

[2] Damien Cave, Azam Ahmed, and Julie Hirschfield Davis, “Donald Trump’s Threat to Close Door Reopens Old Wounds in Cuba,” New York Times, November 28, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016; “U.S. Companies Hope Trump Won’t Block Their Million-Dollar Cuba Deals,” Reuters, November 29, 2016. Republished by NBCNews. Accessed November 30, 2016; David Jackson, “Trump ponders Cabinet appointments, threatens Cuba deal,” USA Today, November 28, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.

[3] Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Time Books, 2006), 31-32, 37-44, 46, 48, 63.

[4] Kinzer, 83, 87-91

[5] Kinzer, 90-91, 135, 139, 154, 174, 205, 220, 226-227, 236.

[6] Franklin Knight, “The Transformation of Cuban Agriculture 1763-1838,” Caribbean Slave Society and Economy (ed. Dr. Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd, New York: The New Press, 1991), 69, 73.

[7] Knight, 70-72, 74-77

[8] Knight, 77-78.

[9] Rebecca Scott, “Explaining Abolition: Contradiction, Adaptation and Challenge in Cuban Slave Slave Society 1860-1886,” Caribbean Slave Society and Economy (ed. Dr. Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd, New York: The New Press, 1991), 454-455.

[10] Scott, 456-458, 460, 463. Scott says that about 114,000 enslaved blacks were emancipated from slavery from 1881-1886, a major factor in abolition.

[11] The “BASE STRUCTURE REPORT- FISCAL YEAR 2015 BASELINE” notes that the US military is “one of the Federal government’s larger holders of real estate managing a global real property portfolio that consists of nearly 562,000 facilities (buildings, structures, and linear structures), located on over 4,800 sites worldwide and covering over 24.9 million acres” (p. DOD 2). It also notes that there are 513 “active installations” of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and WHS (Washington Headquarters Services) (p. DOD 4). However, the total number of military sites, minus the over 4,100 in the United States, numbers 701 if one considers those in “territories” (really colonies) and overseas (not in the US or its colonies) (p. DOD 6, p. DOD 18). It also worth noting that the military “uses over 178,000 structures throughout the world, valued at over $131 billion,” along with “107,000 linear structures throughout the world, valued at over $163 billion,” and managing “24.9 million acres of land worldwide,” which one could consider as aspects of the empire itself (p. DOD 10, DOD 12, DOD 14). If that isn’t enough, there are also 42 Army National Guard Sites in US colonies, which when combined with the 701 military sites noted earlier, comes up to 743 military sites (p. DOD 16).

The legacy of Fidel Castro and brutal U$ imperialism

My thoughts on those who dislike Fidel Castro, with the “kids” representing liberals or “left” people who dislike him. This comes from the recent Simpson episode “Havana Wild Weekend” which is mildly funny.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Nov 30, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

I’ve written about Cuba on this blog before, but I find it necessary to talk about the legacy of Fidel Castro (called Fidel in the rest of this post) and its relation to the machinations of U$ imperialism. There is no doubt that Cuba is part of an anti-imperialist front, as I’ve called it. As for socialist island nation, Cuba has a deep revolutionary history, which informs its anti-imperialist struggle and interaction with socialism (although it has recently gone down a revisionist path), which must be protected so that an “imagined scenario,” like one I envisioned, which involves capitalist destruction and exploitation of the island, does not come to pass. Most of the content in this post comes from two storifies I put together specifically on Fidel [dead link], and another which is just a collection [dead  link] of recent tweets.

World leaders and revolutionaries have rightly praised Fidel, who was 90 years old, surviving hundreds upon hundreds of CIA attempts to kill him. Bashar Al-Assad, the president of the Syrian Arab Republic, calling Cuba an example of struggle for liberation, will continue to be a model of resisting imperialism, and praised Fidel for fighting U$-imposed sanctions on the island. The foreign minister of the revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad Zarif, described Fidel as “a prominent figure in fighting against colonialism and exploitation (of oppressed people); he was a symbol of independence seeking struggles of the oppressed” (also see here). Nicholas Maduro, the President of the embattled Venezuela, honored Fidel, recalled the close relationship between Cuba and Venezuela from 1999-2013 (when Chavez died) and beyond. Robert Mugabe, president of the state of Zimbabwe, declared that “your loss is our loss…farewell revolutionary…We shall always remember you as our own in the same way as Cubans will do so and that is the spirit that brings me and my delegation here…our hearts are full of courage, and his life that he has bequeathed us, a lot of revolutionary goodness.” The Government of Eritrea sent its condolences on Fidel’s death, just like Kim Jong Un of the DPRK on the front page of one of the country’s major newspapers. Neo-Trotskyists like Gloria La Riva of the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and Monica Moorhead of the Worker’s Worker Party also honored Fidel, although that brings up some uncomfortable questions. The National Black United Front declared that “we salute a true Soldier in the liberation movement, #FidelCastro. He’s provided us with the resources that we need to accomplish our goals.” Other groups that praised Castro included the Revolutionary Communist Group, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Even the UN General Assembly observed a moment of silence.

The newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, named after the ship that Fidel, Che Guevara and others came on, in the “invasion” of Cuba which started the revolution, described Fidel as a revolutionary leader, who led Cuba to support the struggle of Angolan independence, said that Cuba was “no one’s satellite,” and “carried out a socialist revolution only 90 miles from the United States.” The obituary went on to say that “the Cuban Revolution and Fidel’s [humanist] ideas have inspired all those searching for a different world…Cuban weapons and resources supported guerillas fighting against dictatorships across our continent” and noted the praise from figures such as Hugo Chavez, in 2005, before his death. In contrast, Trotskyists like WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) and “human rights” advocate Ken Roth served the interest of U$ imperialism by condemning Fidel, with the latter calling him a “dictator” and the former decrying supposed “bourgeois nationalism.” Clearly, neither one of these sources should be listened to, as should others on the right-wing, like Darrell Issa, Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, and the current President, which can be called the orange menace. I’m not even going to talk about the response in the “mainstream” bourgeois media like the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times. The same goes for duplicitous people like Bernie “nice imperialist” Sanders or Zizek.

https://twitter.com/kazahann/status/802654768246099968

While some misinformed people will say Fidel was disliked in Cuba, this clearly isn’t true. On November 28, nine days of mourning began on the island, with numerous residents calling the death a “sad moment” and were distressed by the news, including those at the University of Havana, where Fidel went to school, and young Cubans. A few days ago there was a mass tribute at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana for Fidel. This was coupled by mourning outside the Cuban embassy in Argentina, with all celebrating his achievements. The Iranian government also said that a delegation from Iran will take part in the funeral ceremony for Fidel. The Venezuelan government declared three days of mourning. The government of the DPRK did the same. He was, to put it simply, eulogized in memorial services in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Vietnam, and South Africa, as noted by PressTV.

Out of the news about Fidel’s death came some interesting stories. Louis Allday, currently a PhD candidate at SOAS, shared that Cuba sent troops to support Algeria, then ruled by socialist soldier and President Ben Bella, in the “Sand War” against a US-backed Morocco, in 1963. He also wrote about how BBC, an imperial news outlet, praised Cuba’s healthcare but refused to use the word communist and Fidel noting how black and Latino people were used as cannon fodder by the US military. Other twitter users noted how Fidel took responsibility (and blame) for the gay persecution in the country in the 1960s (also see here) even as the country decriminalized homosexuality before the U$ by over twenty years. In 1973 Fidel sent an armored brigade to Syria, which fought in the war against Israel that year. Elsewhere on twitter it was noted that Cuba sent aid during Hurricane Katrina, that Cuba supported the Socialist Republic in “South Yemen” (before its sad demise), pictures of Fidel with Yasser Arafat, along with Kim II Sung, Gaddafi, Thomas Sankara, Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Nelson Mandela. One South African publication wrote that Fidel and Cuba engaged in interventions in Africa without consulting Soviet leadership, disproving they were a “satellite” of the Soviet Union, relying on Piero Gleijeses‘s works on Cuba, an academic who likely is not radical. The publication also said that Fidel had a “revolutionary zeal that played a critical role in assisting African liberation movements…from Angola to Namibia, Algeria to Guinea Bissau” and a commitment to fight U$ influence in Africa after Cuba’s numerous forays to the U$ in 196os were rejected. This post is almost like a stream of consciousness, so a more substantive one is coming shortly.

The US-Saudi imperial interrelationship

Originally  published on the Leftist Critic blog on Nov 13, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

While the society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is corrupted, there is another dimension to mention: the U$-Saudi imperial interrelationship and where it currently stands. It seems that this relationship is good straits, but could easily bounce back as the masters of war of the murderous empire smile with glee. [1] The plan to “mold” opinion proposed in 1950 has not worked:

“…if the President and the Government and the Department of State…felt there was a menace to the interests of the United States, American public opinion could be molded, if not for the sake of Ibn Saud, for the sake of the interests of the United States and Saudi Arabia”

The KSA was founded in 1932, the year that Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) won the presidential election against “discredited” Republican Herbert Hoover. For years, the Saud family had been hiding in Kuwait, a protectorate of the British Empire, while the Ottomans controlled much of the Mideast. After the collapse of Ottoman Empire in 1923, the Saud family sprung into action. They began establishing the foundation of what would become the KSA. By 1932, when the state was declared to the world, few countries recognized it as there were no resources “of importance” and the country was composed mainly of nomads, delineated into varying ethnic groupings. Later that year, the fortunes changed for the Saud family, the new bourgeoisie of Saudi Arabia abeit underdeveloped of course, which was experiencing an “economic crisis,” when black gold was found. With the oil wealth, the Saud family became the Royals, and their brutal monarchy was cemented. With that, the teachings by Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab on the Arabian Peninsula, originally part of am “18th-century revival and reform movement,” often called Wahhabism in the West, received state sanction. This form of Islam, which insists on a “literal interpretation of the Koran” and declares that those who don’t practice it are “heathens and enemies,” would be promoted for years to come even as it was used by all sorts of Islamic reactionaries.

As years passed, the U$, along with many other countries, swooped in and recognized the KSA as a state, and Western oil corporations, like Standard Oil, established their roots in the country. Later a camp was established for foreign oil workers, creating a sort of bubble of security, at least in theory. Years later, some argued that Saudi Arabia and the Islamic movement were part of an anti-imperial front. Canadian socialist Paul Saba, wrote in 1980 that colonialists tried to suppress Islam, which made it stronger and part of anti-colonial struggle, meaning that many Muslim groups often played a “progressive role in supporting national liberation.” He also said that because sentencing in the Islamic world is “far less than severe than the torture and murder which existed under the Shah,” that it is fine, a position which should be unacceptable to any reasonable person. Saba also said that the Islamic movement wanted development and progress apart from “imperialist control,” with the US as a key target for hatred and defiance due to, as he put it, “historical plunder and domination of the Middle East and its backing for Israeli Zionism and the Shah of Iran.” While he makes valid points about countries such as Iran, which is currently at a crossroads geopolitically, he does not recognize that many of these countries are religiously conservative and as a result, do not have true liberation, especially for women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims.

In the 1940s, the equation changed once again. While the US sent engineers to work on Saudi roads, financial loans to the KSA were nixed by the U$ government because of British support for the Kingdom. [2] Even as veteran diplomat Alexander Comstock Kirk agreed with this assessment, he rejected the idea of “a division of hemispheres of influence” in which the British would take a leading role instead of the U$. U$ diplomats even debated sending agricultural and technical assistance to the KSA based on what was done on reservations of the remaining indigenous nations in the U$! [3] At the same time, certain policymakers turned their attention to the Kingdom where a “massive oilfield has been discovered in 1938,” and strengthened a relationship with the country, trying to cultivate it as a friend.

All of this happened even as the Kingdom and its bourgeoisie had established diplomatic relations with the Nazi and Italian fascists, both of whom tried to bring the Saudis to their side, sometimes by promising to send armaments. [4] Even so, the U$ was successful in bribing the Saudis to switch sides and declare war on the Nazis by 1945, even inviting them to a UN conference, a proposal which was roundly rejected by the Soviets.

As time passed, relations changed. Not only did FDR’s meeting with Ibn Saud (known in the Arab world as Abdulaziz), in Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, reinforce the U$-Saudi relationship, but the US began sending the oil-rich country military aid. [5] The U$ began seeing protection of the KSA as vital to the security of the empire. This was a time that the US saw the Kingdom as “a bulwark to peace in the Near Eastern world” supported the extension of a 15 million dollar Export-Import Bank loan to the country to develop its railroads, highways and generally its transportation system. [6]

This relationship was helped because the Saudis were staunchly anti-communist. Millions of dollars of U$ investments in the country were considered as an “effective weapon against the advance of Communism.” In exchange for such investment, the Saudis allowed their airfield of Dharan to hold U$ warplanes and US commercial flights by the early 1950s. Afterword, the U$ sent military advisers to “protect” the Kingdom and reassert U$ military rights in the country. In later years, during the 1972 border conflict between North Yemen (backed by Jordan, KSA, the U$, UK, Taiwan, and West Germany) and South Yemen, also called the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, and Libya), and after, the Saudis saw South Yemen as a threat. The country was even praised by the World Bank for satisfying basic needs of the population, raising education standards, and more. The government of South Yemen also engaged in campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, emancipate women, develop a safe drinking water system, and engage in agriculture collectivization. Eventually, the imperial and capitalistic forces got their way, uniting the North and South Yemen behind Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former leader of North Yemen, in 1990, who would be predictably US-friendly until his ousting in 2012. However, in 1994 there was a civil war between the pro-Western northerners and socialist southerners, which was launched by North Yemen, which again led to reunification and purging of the left from Yemeni society. Even since 2013, people resisted Yemeni occupation of the southern part of the country “through the division of labor and through popular committees” which is mainly expressed through peaceful protest as the last secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party, Ali Salim al-Beidh, noted in a 2013 interview.

While the Saudis became anxious for not receiving military assistance, they were likely glad that the U$ negotiated an agreement between them and ARAMCO (Arab-American Oil Company). [7] At the same time, the U$ had the appearance as a “neutral mediator” in disputes, mainly between the British and Saudis, handled in arbitration sessions. These disputes were over oil field claims near Farsi island, Qatar, the town of Buraimi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and other border areas. Those involved in the disputes, which had been festering since the late 1940s, included Aramco and British oil companies such as Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). Ultimately, the Saudis found the British, who were exploring oil drilling in a disputed zone, to be impolite and were angry at them, which the British found disconcerting, with their bourgeoisie likely worried on losing a market.

In subsequent years, as the formal British Empire weakened, which would become, at least for the Saudis, “hostile,” the U$ would pledge to protect them and their oil from those they perceived as the “aggressors”: the Soviets. Still, in 1952, the Join Chiefs of Staff believed that “from a military point of view, grant aid to Saudi Arabia and certain other Middle East countries is not justified,” even though they agreed that the Kingdom had unique position in the Mideast. The U$ pledge for support was noted in a summary of a March 1950 conversation, between the U$, Britain, and the KSA:

“the United States has an extremely strong interest in the American investment in petroleum in Saudi Arabia. This is an interest which is vitally important to the security of the United States and to the world…it is necessary that the United States render assistance to nations who find themselves threatened by aggression or subversion from the north…The United States feels that the only important long-range security menace that faces the world is the obviously aggressive designs of the USSR…if at any time it [Saudi Arabia] is menaced by aggressive action or subversive activities from any neighboring power, the United States Government will take most definite action…The United States on its side is gratified that American investors, both oilmen and others, have chosen to come here to work with the Saudi Arabian Government”

However the relationship between the U$ and the KSA developed a hiccup in the form of the murderous Zionist apartheid state.

In 1947, after years of Zionist efforts to establish a state, the murderous apartheid state. was established in the Holy Land of Palestine. The area was already torn by strife between Jews and Arabs, which the British imperialists saw as a dilemma to quickly extricate themselves from. This new state was founded on violence and religious ideals like the KSA, but was specifically founded on the genocide of the Palestinians. The Saudis were strongly opposed to this new state and seemed to favor the Palestinians. Ibn Saud, from 1947 to his death in 1953, was strongly anti-Zionist (perhaps even anti-Semitic) and warned the U$ of consequences if they supported Israel. [8] Even as FDR has reassured Ibn Saud that the U$ would not change its policy on Palestine, “without consulting the Arabs,” this was disregarded. Ibn Saud stayed outspoken on Zionism, even canceling an Aramco concession, alarming the military and foreign policy establishment. Eventually, Saud found he could distinguish between U$ foreign policy elsewhere in the Mideast and ARAMCO, arguing that oil royalties could allow Arab states to resist “Jewish pretensions,” and staying formally hostile to Zionism. For years to come, he U$ supported the Zionist state, although not as strongly until the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite this, the U$-Saudi relationship persisted. Presidents, whether from the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties, have tried to favor the KSA in whatever way they can, whether that is through arms deals or accepting ceremonial gifts. The U$ even sent a medical team, led by President Truman’s personal physician, to the Kingdom to make sure that Ibn Saud was healthy before his death! In 1957, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the “Eisenhower Doctrine,” said that the U$ would, within constitutional means, oppose “overt armed aggression” in the Kingdom and the Middle East by Soviet and Soviet-aligned agents. Years later, John F. Kennedy, still lauded by conservatives and liberals alike, ordered that a squadron of fighters be sent to the country to protect it from Egyptian air assaults. Years later, the U$ was grateful for the Saudi effort to avoid a “serious shortfall in oil supplies,” stabilize the world oil market, and the Saudi decision to increase production due to the Iranian revolution in 1979.

In later years, the relationship between the KSA and the U$ strengthened. A senior fellow at the elite Council on Foreign Relations, Rachel Bronson, wrote in 2004 that the “close, cozy relationship” between the two countries began with Ronald Reagan, not George W. Bush, with the relationship cemented in efforts to counter claimed “Soviet aggression.” She continues, saying that the Saudis had their own reasons for fighting the Soviets including their fear that the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan would “threaten” their Kingdom. Bronson goes on to say that the Saudis also played a role in funding the contras in Nicaragua, Reagan’s “freedom fighters” for capitalism, along with funding opposition to Ethiopia’s Soviet-aligned government and horrid rebel leader Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA to fight the Soviet-backed government in Angola. She then claims that current attention to Bush family “misses the longer history of the American and Saudi Arabian contemporary relationship.” However, by saying this, she is whitewashing the Bush family’s history with the Saud family.

In 1990, former CIA director and then-President George H.W. Bush brought troops into the Kingdom during the Persian Gulf quest for oil, declaring that the U$ would “assist the Saudi Arabian government in the defense of its homeland.” This was not a surprise as then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney personally flew to the oil kingdom to ask King Fahd to allow the US to “station thousands of troops there,” saying to the U$ Senate that the US was coming to their aid because of the agreement between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud all those years ago. [9] Not long after, he subsequently supported the war against Iraq. Years later, George W. Bush would declare the country was “expanding the role of its people in determining their future” even as they remained a brutal state.

Still, there have been disagreements and snipes over the years. Even disgraced war criminal Killary Clinton, in excerpts of speeches, released by Wikileaks and organized later by the National Security Archive, to bankers and well-off constituencies, criticized the Saudis. She said that they (and the Emiratis) feared “organized efforts for political Islam,” saw the Muslim Brotherhood as threatening, and were against missile defense in the Mideast. She also said that the Saudis did not have a stable government (perhaps indicated by the killing a Saudi royal by head chopping), that the Saudis have backed the Sunni fighters in Syria with large amounts of arms, and that the “Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.” [10] This statement aligns with earlier Wikileaks cables saying that the country was “the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups,” with the government not even trying to stop the flow of money, and recent releases saying that the Kingdom and Qatar “fund ISIS.”

As for Clinton, while she may have angered top policymakers when she spoke her mind about Zionist and Saudi actions, she also stated the obvious. She said that that as a result of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Zionist state and the KSA are “more closely aligned in their foreign policy…[on] Iran…Egypt…Syria and…a lot of other things.” [11] This is was also clear when the late King Abdullah said that the U$ should “cut off the head of the snake” and bomb Iran before it was too late. [12] More recently, the Saudis even allowed Zionist newspapers to be viewed in the country.

Apart from the powerful (but currently weakened) Saudi lobby, there is the bourgeois media. When King Abdullah died in January of last year, this media could not let down on its praise, calling him “something of an advocate for women” (The Telegraph), “a reformer at home” (BBC), a “reformer and often came up against the more hard-line clerics” (CNN), “accepted limited change” (The Guardian), “pushed cautious changes” (Reuters), “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer…[and] became, in some ways, a force of moderation” (New York Times), “to his supporters, [he]…was a benign and…progressive monarch” (Wall Street Journal), “was seen by many as a gentle reformer” (The Independent), and “was considered a savvy and plainspoken modernizer, if not a reformer” (The New Yorker). [13] While BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and The Independent were more reserved in their praise, they were still part of the general trend.

Apart from crap infotainment sites like BuzzFeed claiming that King Abdullah’s “legacy” was important to care about, President Obama declared that the Saudi king was “always candid and had the courage of his convictions” and corporatist Secretary of State John Kerry, in a bubble of misunderstanding and confusion, said that the U$ “lost a friend…the world has lost a revered leadera man of wisdom and vision…a brave partner in fighting violent extremism.” To top this off is the State Department-connected and bourgeois Human Rights Watch declaring that King Abdullah’s reign has “brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens,” which basically offering of praise.

Some criticized such praise at the time. One of these people was Jacob Mchangama, the director of the Justia think tank, on the conservative website of Forbes. He wrote that the reactions to the death of the Saudi king “has been a rude awakening.” He criticized the responses of leaders including John Kerry, former UK prime minister David Cameron, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, saying that “acknowledging the victims of King Abdullah rather than singing false praises would be a good start” in the right direction. His tepid criticism doesn’t go far enough: the bourgeois media and Western capitalist leaders are supporting the imperialist U$-Saudi relationship by whitewashing the crimes of the authoritarian Kingdom. If anything, people should be celebrating the death of a tyrant like King Abdullah, not praising him as a reformer, and should be recognizing that Saudi society is still violent, like that of the U$, but also in a very different way, with routine executions of “subversives.”

The Iranian leaders clearly agree with Clinton on this point. In a recent speech to the UN General Assembly, the moderate reformist President, backed by the Western capitalists, Hassan Rouhani, argued that if the Saudis are serious about development and regional security they must stop their “divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors.” He further criticized the U$ government for not following on the Iran deal, along with the Supreme Court decision earlier this year, to which only chief justice John Roberts and associate justice Sonia Sotamayor dissenting, to seize Iranian assets because they “committed terrorism.” He also said that Iran had a good relationship with the people of the United States, and that their “problem is with the American government, not companies, people and universities.”

Apart from the internal dynamics and land grabs, there are obvious realities which should be pointed out. For one, the Saudis are backing the religiously reactionary opposition in the Syrian Arab Republic, which was not “moderate” but are basically Al Qaeda type-organizations, like Al Nusra. They even offered Russia an oil deal secretly if they withdrew backing of the Syrian government, which they refused, and they provided chemical weapons to Syrian “rebels.” The goal of the Saudis interconnect directly with U$ imperial interests, which entail the displacing the progressive government headed by Bashar Al-Assad and replacing him (and the government) with one that benefits imperial power and allows Western investments to flow. The Kingdom is, as as result, an arm of U$ imperial foreign policy. The KSA even allied with the U$-supported  state of Kazakhstan, and the U$, which has a drone base in the Kingdom, has propped up the brutal autocratic state and its leaders. All of this isn’t a surprise since in 2011, the U$ Senate Intelligence Committee found a list of direct members of the Saudi royal family who were connected with 9/11, a discovery which connects to the fact the Kingdom arguably divided into fiefdoms, with specific princes having their own interests which may have had a “severe impact on 9/11.”

Recently, the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the U$ has been decisively shaken. On September 28th, the U$ Congress roundly overrode President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a law which allows families of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for involvement in the attacks, which makes sense since 15 of the 19 hijackers came from the country. [14] Scholar Binoy Kampmark argued that the law was a “very American formula, one born in the court room and litigation process,” that any avenue of legal action “against an ally was tantamount to a confession,” and noting that the Saudi foreign minister said that their assets could be seized due to the law. He also argued that this bill’s passage meant that “various imperial efforts of the US would be compromised,” with U$ imperial engagements and actions, along with those of US allies, suddenly facing “the prospect of legal targeting,” with the law serving as one the most overt challenges to “assumptions of sovereign immunity.”

Those for the law include president-elect (and fascist) the orange menace, Killary, Nancy Pelosi, John Cornyn, and a majority of Congress. The main force behind the law, other than feelings of jingoism conjured up even by mention of the September 11 attacks, was a New Jersey group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, which is pro-military but critical of the Saudis. The group’s chair, Terry Strada, a former director of J.P. Morgan Chase’s Human Resources department, joined the group in 2002 and became chair in 2012. [15] One of their lawyers, James P. Kreindler, declared that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to see this continue in the media or court…we are going to prevail. We are going to win. Either the Saudis will come to the table or we’ll go to court and win there.”

The groups against the law are varied. They include the Saudi government, President Obama, who warned it would lead countries to sue the US in foreign courts for war crimes, CIA director John Brennan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a bipartisan group of former executive officials saying that the law would harm US interests and undercut security of the empire. [16] The Saudi foreign ministry declared that the law would lead to “serious unintended repercussions” such as threats to sovereign immunity. Some have said that the law, coupled with other measures, is a setback for the Saudis, whose influence on Capital Hill is waning, and that “anti-Saudi activity” on the Hill is the strongest it has been in decades. [17] These “concerns” were as bad as an ABC News fluff piece about the law, with their hand-picked experts saying that the law cold lead to “potentially any nation” sued, could make the U$ “much more vulnerable,” is “very dangerous…a huge mistake,” undermining counter-terrorism, and hilariously that “some countries would be interested in saying our military aid to Israel is aiding and abetting things that they would allege are sometimes war crimes against the Palestinians” which “we” need immunity from.

A Yale-educated individual formerly in the military establishment, named Michael Rubin, went the furthest of all. He said that without oil, the KSA “would be a very different place” and that oil money led the country into “modernity.” After saying that JASTA would shake “Saudi financial stability,” he declared that the Kingdom would become “bankrupt” because of the law, saying that this is not “good for America” since “what happens in Riyadh doesn’t stay in Riyadh.” Then, almost like a giddy neo-con, he worried that political instability in the country would not be “good” because decades of “Islamist education and indoctrination” would lead unemployed Saudi youth to not embrace “liberalism and tolerance if suddenly put in desperate straits.” Basically, this means that the country would not be a bastion of imperialism and could become, hypothetically, anti-imperialist and antagonistic to the U$, which he sees as “dangerous.” Reasoned people should welcome such a change in Saudi Arabia if it is pushed by those who want to challenge imperial control, apart from the Islamic reactionaries.

Congressional criticism and efforts to curtail the Saudis only goes so far. In late September, the U$ Senate passed a law, by a supermajority, to approve the sale of Abrams tanks and other armaments to the KSA, with bigwig Senators like John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell in support. Those that objected were led by libertarian-Republican Senator Rand Paul and liberal-Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. While Paul opposed giving the KSA more arms because Congress hadn’t discussed the Saudi bombing of Yemen, which has killed over 3,800 civilians and resulted in much turmoil, Murphy had other reasons. He argued that there is “an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen,” a statement proved by the fact that that the KSA is using U$-supplied white phosphorous in Yemen. He also said that the KSA was not “immune from criticism” and that the US should not dictate what “form of Islam wins out around the world.” However, he said that the U$ should still have a strong relationship with the KSA, which he considered vital, that allows “for one party to object to the behavior of the other when it’s not in the party’s mutual national security interests” and that the relationship can survive U$ challenges. Despite these reservations, criticism of the Saudis in Congress, and generally, is a good sign of things to come. Bourgeois left-liberals have their answer to these problems in (and relating to) Saudi Arabia embodied by veteran peace activist Medea Benjamin. She argues in her new book that the current US-Saudi relationship is destructive and that the US State Department should use its existing policies to sanction the KSA. [18] While this may be satisfying to some, this article will go further be recognizing how the relationship is connected to the capitalist system, imperialism, and the murderous US empire.

On the other hand, the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia could be in trouble. For one, during the continuing U$-backed Saudi war in Yemen, some top government officials, especially in the State Department were worried. They said in emails, from mid-last year to earlier this year, that they were concerned about legal blowback from U$ participation in the Saudi bombing. These officials believed that the US could be “implicated in war crimes” and that the Saudis would kill civilians due to their “lack of…experience with dropping munitions and firing missiles” coupled with weak intelligence, even as they attempted to maintain the U$-Saudi relationship. Further emails showed that the Saudis disregarded a list prepared by senior officials to prevent destruction of “critical infrastructure” and reduce casualties, bombing a bridge to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa which was a major rout for humanitarian food aid. Even former military prosecutor and California liberal senator Ted Lieu declared, that due to the assistance in the horrid bombing, the Obama administration is “now in an untenable situation.” This situation is complicated by the fact that risks to U$ military personnel, the footsoldiers of empire, even those on Navy destroyers, is increasing due to Saudi airstrikes on Yemeni civilians. [19]

Still, there is no doubt that the murderous empire had purposely turned looked away from the abuses of women, non-Muslims, foreign workers, and many others in the Kingdom, as previously noted. Not only is the country a murderous state, but it is effectively a client state of the empire, since without US support it could not destabilize the region whether it is backing horrid “rebels” in Syria or decimating the small country of Yemen. This is not a surprise since diplomats, even in 1946, declared that the U$ should provide “such assistance as may be necessary and feasible to strengthen and maintain that country as a sovereign state free of internal and external disturbances which might threaten its stability.” But the empire is not the only one that is defending the Kingdom.

As it should be obvious, supporting a relationship, even a “bilateral partnership,” with a tyrannical government like the KSA is against the principles of democracy, freedom, and justice the US supposedly stands for. Some policymakers might speak of the “reforms” in the country such as “expanding rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” but they will never gut the relationship. The fact that the NSA partnered with brutal Saudi state police and that the country’s currency is directly tied to the U$ dollar, showing that the relationship is entrenched. Even Bernie Sanders, the professed progressive and “antiwar” candidate in the capitalist Democratic Party, believed that rich authoritarian Arab states, such as the Kingdom, should fight against Daesh. Such an approach is not anti-interventionist since it means that the US-backed imperial proxies would be fighting against it, which does not, in any way, shape, or form undermine U$ imperialism. It also provides the potential for Saudi aggression to expand beyond Syria to the whole Mideast, causing more reactionary responses.

Readers may be looking for a “call to action” after reading this piece. I’m not going to follow the pattern of so many liberal documentaries which say you should go to a website and sign a petition. However, it is my hope that this article helps people start to challenge not only the accepted narrative about Saudi Arabia in the West but informs criticisms of bourgeois liberals. Much of the criticism of the US-Saudi relationship, and the Kingdom itself, mainly focuses on violations of “human rights,” as flawed a concept as that is, and stays within the bounds of accepted discourse in our capitalist society. There needs to be an analysis of Saudi Arabia and U$ imperial power which recognizes the interconnected nature of imperialism, capitalism, and other systems of oppression. This includes even criticizing states, even those one may be inclined to support, which have relationships with Saudi Arabia. While this article does not have all the answers and is only a first stab at this subject, but hopefully it opens the door for more discussion.


Notes

[1] Under the Obama administration, there was biggest arms deal in U$ history, at the time, with up to $60 billion dollars of military equipment bought for the Saudis, which was largely ignored by the corporate media.

[2] Wallace Murray, “Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” May 29, 1941, 890F.51/21, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt Kirk to the Secretary of State,” June 26, 1941, 890F.21/23: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” August 22, 1941, 890F.51/29: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” August 30, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” September 10, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” September 23, 1941, 890F.51/39: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Sumner Welles, “Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” September 26, 1941, 890F.515/1⅓, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016. Even the US was not on board with a Saudi request for 2 million in gold pieces in 1946.

[3] Harold I. Ickes, “The Secretary of Interior (Ickes) to the Secretary of State,” May 21, 1941, 102.64/100; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Gordon P. Merriam, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs,” September 19, 1941, 800F.00/67; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016.

[4] Francis R. Nicosia, Nazi Germany and the Arab World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 43, 76, 88, 110-114, 124-125, 126-127, 130-132. Reportedly, late Saudi King Abdullah treasured the dagger Hitler gave the Saudis in 1939.

[5] Adam Taylor, “The first time a US president met a Saudi King,” Washington Post, January 27, 2015. Accessed October 14, 2016; Rudy Abramson, “1945 Meeting of FDR and Saudi King Was Pivotal for Relations,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 1990. Accessed October 14, 2016; G. Jefferson Price III, “Saudis remember FDR’s broken promise,” Baltimore Sun, September 1, 2002. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[6] “Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Villard) to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Clayton),” September 27, 1946, 890F.51/9–2746, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Near East and Africa, Volume VII. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Thorp),” June 30, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Awalt),” July 28, 1950, 866A.10/7-2850, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[7] “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Fred H. Awalt, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Fred H. Awalt of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs,” October 5, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V, Accessed October 14, 2016; “The Chief of Staff of the United States Army to the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, 786A.5/4–350: Telegram, April 3, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Raymond A. Hare, “The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Secretary of Defense (Johnson),” March 8, 1950, 711.56386A/2–1350, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1441: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” August 19, 1952, 786A.5 MSP/8–1952, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1432: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” January 21, 1952, 711.5886A/1–2152, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1451: Memorandum by the President to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” March 14, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/3–1453, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1453: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister (Faisal),” 786A.5 MSP/3–2653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1510: Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan),” April 1, 1953, 780.022/4–153, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1448: The Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan) to the Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Hare),” January 16, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/1-653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1454: Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; Walter B. Smith, “No. 1450: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[8] He was also reportedly anti-Semitic. As Tariq Ali writes in his review of Gilbert Archar’s book about Arabs and the Holocaust, he writes that Archar didn’t add that “the late Ibn Saud…was in the habit of presenting visiting Western leaders with copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a virulently anti-Semitic book. Other sources such as an article by Anthony Sampson in the Observer Review titled “Desert Diary” on March 9, 1975 partially confirms this.

[9] Additionally, it is worth noting that Osama Bin Laden used the fact of U$ troops in the country as a rallying cry to bring support to his cause. He argued that he hated the US also for U$ sanctions against Iraq and “American policies toward Israel and the occupied territories,” also noting he was infuriated by U$ troops stationed in the country as he told journalist Robert Frisk.

[10] Clinton also asserted that the Iranians were behind the planned murder of a Saudi ambassador, which was proven false. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter argued, convincingly, that the U$ government’s narrative on the assassination plot was an an elaborate set up to implicate Iran as part of a campaign against the country and possibly lead to war.

[11] Perhaps this is also why Erdogan thanked Saudi Arabia for its post-coup solidarity as he tries to make Turkey and the Saudis have a common cause.

[12] Wikileaks cables, from the 2010 release with documents gathered by Chelsea Manning, also suggested deals for jetliners given to heads of states and airline executives in multiple Mideast countries, that the Kingdom proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.

[13] “King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz al-Saud – obituary,” The Telegraph, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dies,” BBC, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Anas Hamdan, Catherine E. Shoichet, and Dana Ford, “Saudi Arabia’s ‘reformer’ King Abdullah dies,” CNN, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ian Black, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies at 90,” The Guardian, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Angus McDowell, “Saudi King Abdullah dies, new ruler is Salman,” Reuters, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Douglas Martin and Ben Hubbard, “King Abdullah, Shrewd Force Who Reshaped Saudi Arabia, dies at 90,” New York Times, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ellen Knickmeyer and Ahmed Al Omran, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies,” Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Helen Nianias, “King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dead: What did he do for Saudi Arabia?,” The Independent, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Robin Wright, “Postscript: King Abdullah, 1924-2015,” The New Yorker, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016.

[14] CBS News, “Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia”, Sept. 23, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2016; Associated Press, “Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill aimed at Saudi Arabia sets up standoff with Congress,” September 23, 2016. Reprinted in The Guardian. Also see articles in NBC News and Politico.

[15] For more information, also see Strada’s posts on Huffington Post and her appearance on C-Span. Also of note is the response of their lawyers. I would add all of the press releases of Strada’s group here, but there are so many that the links would take up too much space.

[16] See articles in Al Arabiya, Slate, Al Jazeera, ABC (Australian), BBC, DW, and ABC (American).

[17] Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post, “Saudi Arabia is facing unprecedented scrutiny from Congress,” Sept. 21. Accessed October 12, 2016; Steven T. Dennis and Roxana Toxon, Bloomberg, Sept. 21, 2016, “Saudi Arabia’s Clout in Washington Isn’t What It Used to Be.” Also see an article in Euro News.

[18] This is mild compared to the absurd, silly, downright dumb approach of Charles Davis, called Chuckles by many critical radicals on the twittersphere, instituting a no-fly-zone over Saudi Arabia to stop their war.

[19] Articles in Fortune, Bloomberg, and Foreign Policy claimed when the war began that oil prices were negatively effected. However, a CNBC piece quoted a high-level Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Francisco Blanch, who argued that “I don’t think that Yemen had a lot of importance for the oil market…I’m not very worried about physical supply disruptions coming out of Yemen…The main issue…is whether the airstrikes…end up being a proxy war…a proxy war in the Middle East is always a risky event for oil market; there’s no question about it.” Some even claimed that the war in Yemen was a “proxy battlefield” between Iran-backed Houthis and US allies (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). Recently, the Saudis intercepted a missile from the Houthis which they claimed was headed to Mecca, but they could be twisting the truth.

A bastion of imperialism: the corrupted nature of Saudi society

A shopping mall in Saudi Arabia (2011)

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Nov 13, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Editor’s note: Reading this again, I see it as wholly underdeveloped in structure and content. I think it necessary to keep on here, but it is not one of my better pieces. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself, but I’m a bit embarrassed to have a piece like this on such a site like this where I engage in better, more thoughtful analysis. Still, I think this is a necessary part of understanding Saudi Arabia. As always, I’m open to comments and criticism.

Every day, more of a black gooey substance, black gold as some call it, is pumped out of the ground in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Like the state of Venezuela, which is struggling for dear life against U$-backed opposition, “oil is the economy of Saudi Arabia,” meaning that depletion of oil will undoubtedly weaken their economy. The Saudi economy is so dependent on the substance, despite some efforts to purportedly diversify their economy in recent days, that officials overstated their country’s crude oil reserves by about 40 percent and owe billions of dollars to contractors which they did not pay because of an “oil slump.” As it stands now, the oil Kingdom is a client state of the murderous U$ empire, a bastion of imperialism with feudal shiekhdoms in place, in no way representing Arab nationalism of the past. This Persian Gulf protectorate uses its “oil weapon” to push its agenda. This article is the first in a series about Saudi Arabia, focusing on the corrupted nature of Saudi society as it currently stands.

At the current time, there is the possibility of political instability in the country. The KSA is backed by the imperial juggernaut. Its leaders, a royal bourgeoisie if you will, can easily placate the Saudi citizenry with decisions like slashing the salaries of government ministers, even as they ask ordinary families to cut back their salaries. Another method to maintain control could be the acquisition of millions of acres of prime farmland, mostly in the Senegal River Valley. One of the corporations participating in the land grab is owned by the father of now-deceased Osama Bin Laden: the Bin Laden Group. These land grabs were fully supported by the Saudi state, headed by late King Abdullah, with an idea of acquiring cropland abroad, growing corn, wheat, and soybeans, to feed those in the homeland. In Ethiopia, 1,000 locals every day load, pick, and pack hundreds of tons of fresh produce into waiting trucks, with the food going through the country, one of the “hungriest places on the planet,” and back to those living in the Kingdom. The Saudis are not the only ones engaging in such land grabs, with other states taking land in order to feed those living in their respective homelands. This practice, which leads to exploitation of the poorer, “underdeveloped” countries by ones that are much more wealthy, a form of imperialism which is inherent in the dynamics of capitalism itself.

At the same time, the Sauds can also stir nationalism in an effort to gain territory , such as two islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, handed over by Egypt’s U$-backed government to the Saudis. This was in exchange for Saudi aid to the Egyptians, to boost their ailing economy, a deal which was recently greenlighted by a court in Cairo. The Saudis could exploit this incident to cull nationalistic feelings in their own country.

The class dynamics of Saudi society are important to recognize in order see its true nature. For one, in imperial client states such as Bahrain, KSA, Qatar, and other monarchies, there has been a large rallying cry against US presence in the country by Islamic reactionaries and by a significant part of Saudi society which see foreign troops, partially, as an affront to national pride. However, an armed uprising in the country could be unlikely due to oil wealth since “Saudi citizens enjoyed a high standard of living” if they stayed quiet and didn’t engage in democratic debate. At the same time, tensions are rising because new migrant workers plus unemployment among young Saudis is creating much resentment, with the creation of a “native Saudi working class.” This could lead to a possible social basis for Saudi social movements and resistance from the proletariat.

The thousands of migrant workers in the country are also part of the dynamics of the Saudi class society. Due to few opportunities in their home countries in Southeast Asia and the horn of Africa, “millions of poor, desperate men and women” annually immigrate, and are vulnerable at home and abroad. Many are abused, killed, and enslaved through the kafala sponsorship system which ties the status of migrant workers to their employers. This system means that employers control any ability for the eight million workers, comprising one-third of the Saudi population, to leave the country. Additionally, there are excessive working hours, wages withheld, and numerous forms of personal abuse and horrific events, such as sexual violence.

Adding to the misery of workers in KSA, racism is spread across the country’s society. Migrant workers are tarred as “black” and Ethiopians are placed at the bottom of this racist hierarchy. This is reinforced by the fact that all religions, but Islam, are banned inside the country and access to translators is denied to migrants. Some migrants are deported (“repatriated”), in theory, to help native Saudis, but this actually hurts them  since the crackdown on migrants weakens the fabric of society in and of itself even as many Saudis are caught up in anti-migrant sentiment. Some have argued that unless root causes of “poverty, poor education and lack of opportunities…extreme social and economic inequality” are not addressed than many immigrants will “migrate elsewhere…placing themselves at risk of further exploitation, abuse and even death.” Recently, a building bust has trapped thousands of starving (South Asian) Indian workers in Saudi Arabia who are stranded in the desert leading to a “food crisis” and direct action by workers.

The class and racial elements of Saudi society are addressed in the recent Hollyweird comedic drama named A Hologram for the King which bombed at the box office. Usually movies about Arabs are utterly horrible. Jack G. Shaheen, an authority on media images and stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs, argues in his tome which reviews 900 Hollyweird films, says that the vast majority of them distort Arabs of all ages and genders, saying that from 1896 to the present, “Hollywood’s caricature of the Arab has prowled the silver screen…[staying] as repulsive and unrepresentative as ever…[with] Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, and abusers of women,” treated as the other. [1] The problem with this, of course, is while Arabs can be villains in movies, “almost all Hollywood depictions of Arabs are bad ones” with repetitive and duplicitous images going across generations.

This movie was a bit different in that there were no heroes, no villains, just star actor Tom Hanks playing a businessperson, Alan Clay, who is trying to find his way in a culture foreign to him. Without getting into the movie too much, in one instance, one character, a Saudi cab driver, Yousef (a white actor named Alexander James Black who acts as a person of color, yet again), asks Clay “so if I start a democratic revolution here, you would support me?,” to which Clay says that he would personally fight for a revolution, but that the US would not send troops, air support, or other assistance. The conversation, of course, is just brushed off, but is telling since it seems to indicate the tensions in society itself. At another point, Clay says when looking at workers working on the roads of a future “desert city” that “I’m guessing these aren’t union men.” Yousef responds “Oh, we don’t have unions here. We have Filipinos.” This is also not addressed any further and is passed by, but is worth noting regardless.

Later, there is a scene when Clay talks to a nearby Saudi who asks “You work for CIA or something?” after seeing him take a lot of picture, with him joking “Just a little freelance work. Nothing full-time.” Of course, the Saudi takes this joke seriously and Hanks tells his cab drive to head off what he deems is a “ludicrous question” by telling the Saudi “if I was from the CIA, I wouldn’t tell the first person who asked me” and shakes his hand. You could say this makes Saudis look dumb for asking about the CIA, but at the same time it is treated as normal and expected as Saudis, like many in the “Third World,” know to watch out for the CIA based on what they’ve done. Also, it pokes at Hanks’s character (and by extension all Amerikans) are naive about the actions of the CIA. All Hollyweird movies have problems, but this one seemed more positive about Arabs and Saudis than other movies, so that is a good thing. To be clear, I’m not trying to promote this movie, I’m just trying to bring in something I thought was relevant to the subject of this article. If you wish to watch or not watch this movie, that’s up to you.

Back to Saudi society, apart from the racist and class elements, there is a sexist dimension. A recent article on Time’s website described the country as having a private society “rooted in a conservative strand of Islam” that requires adult women to have male guardians, which some call “gender apartheid.” The article further noted that men have more power in relationships since they are allowed to unilaterally divorce their wives while women cannot do the same thing. When men do divorce their wives, mediators and judges are typically conservative men, and the husband remains the guardian of the wife. The article describes specific cases and says that there are consequences for women who engage in legal challenges to male authority, with many women have struggling with “being a women in Saudi” showing that none of them are passive.

The horrid nature of the kingdom is evident. Any dissent or perceived challenge to the absolute monarchy of the Saudi Royals, a royal bourgeoisie, is crushed either by brutal force, concessions, or is outright banned (like unions and labor strikes). The Saudi state includes an internal security agency, the Ministry of the Interior, which has used its power and unlimited budget to train their forces, purchase cameras and surveillance technology in an effort to put in enforce social control. During the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Saudi religious establishment declared that peaceful demonstrations were “a sin against God,” and $36 million in monies was given to the general population with promises of housing and employment. [2] While Pakistan helped suppress dissent in the country, the late King Abdullah granted “reforms” such as the ability of women to participate in local elections in 2015 and the ability to be members of the Consultative Assembly, a formal advisory body, in an effort to blunt protest.

After reading all of this, no one of the right mind should support a relationship with this country. If one considers themselves a feminist or defender of gay rights, they should oppose this country for demeaning women and homosexuals. This can reflexively apply to the U$, which would require challenging existing norms in society. While I am not talking about the U$-Saudi imperial interrelationship, these aspects are covered in the next article in this series. This article, for any of those critics out there, is just meant as a brief overview to start a conversation, not to say everything that is possible to say about Saudi society, which would fill a large book easily.


Notes

[1] Jack G. Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001), 1-2, 6-8, 11, 13, 21-22, 28.

[2] Saudi forces also suppressed protest in the nearby kingdom of Bahrain, with a huge military base, after they were asked by the government for assistance.

“The bumbling empire?”: the murderous US empire trudges on

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on July 10, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Recently, President Obama extended the imperial war and occupation in Afghanistan beyond his time in office, leaving more troops “than planned” as bourgeois CNN declared on their website a few days ago. This, if one follows events of the last few years, is not a surprise. Still, some may say that the murderous empire is falling down/“bumbling” (like Jeremy Scahill) or on the road to collapse. This view is widespread across bourgeois “Left” circles: famed journalist Chris Hedges talks about the “failures and discontents” of the US empire, that democracy and imperialism are “incompatible,” and that the empire has been “declining” since the end of the Vietnam War; political theorist Sheldon Wolin says that “American imperium” can be rethought; former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson says that not dismantling the empire will lead to “likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union” and that “decline and fall [of the empire] is foreordained.” [1] This article aims to point out why these approaches and perspectives are flawed, while looking at what the actual nature of the murderous empire.

Regardless of what some think, the empire is as strong as ever. Sure, there is a growing U$ debt from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the U$ is still the “neighborhood bully” of the world neighborhood, and it still carries a big stick. Perhaps this is because of the lack of domestic opposition to the adventures of empire. Some Gallup polls show opposition to the Afghan and Iraq wars due to war-wariness caused by the cost and length of those wars but there is no firm public opposition to war. At the president, such opposition can easily be softened by imperialist propaganda projected by the military establishment and bourgeois media. The imperialist ideals can become ingrained in people’s minds, but likely not as much as in 1961. The U$ public is currently politically demobilized, as you could put it. As for the “peace movement” in the United States, it is basically a joke and non-existent. There are few groups like CodePink, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, and others but for the most part these groups are bourgeois in nature. There’s also the  Answer Coalition, led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), a neo-Trotskyist group, and likely includes many Workers World Party (WWP), also a neo-Trotskyist group, members, but that is also little hope.

As comrade Emma Quaragel (EQ), who was doxed and exposed by imperial agents mainly centering around Molly Crabapple, argued in a recent post, the U$ government “acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people,” that the Black Panther Party was arguably “the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century” (which is understating U$ history in the 20th century) and that in the U$, a revolutionary movement can “only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism.” EQ goes on to argue that today there can’t be an “antiwar movement…because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence,” that since it is hard to find reliable figures on U$ empire, it opens the door for propagandists to deride/discredit “any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US,” meaning that building “an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle,” even among those small groups that currently exist. This argument is valid and should be listened to.

Some may see the continuing actions of empire with dismay. After all, with the U$-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016) [finalized in late 2018 with Bolsanaro], coupled with drone strikes across the Muslim world from secretive drone bases, shadowy attack teams (JSOC, CIA, and so on), private mercenaries-for-hire, and imperial proxy states such as Saudi Arabia, one may begin to lose hope. The murderous empire does not exist in a vacuum. However, without a country like the Soviet Union, there is no force, with organized (and equal) strength, to oppose this continuous empire. Sure, there are countries dubbed as “enemies” of empire such as Bolivia, Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Syria, and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), but they have little strength.

It must be acknowledged that that Russia and China cannot be depended on to form part of the anti-imperialist front. Russia may have low approval of US leadership, be opposed to NATO’s movement near its borders, and thwart actions of empire but it is a capitalist state and has a bourgeoisie which is often called “the oligarchs.” These bourgeoisie are content to work with US bourgeoisie on certain issues such as anti-terrorism actions and the Syrian conflict, meaning that Russia is not fundamentally opposed to US empire.

As for China, it has removed itself from its communist roots, as it has a thriving market economy. Since the Nixon visit to China in 1973 and Mao’s death in 1976, the Chinese government has been willing to work with the United States, which, during the Cold War, used China as a wedge to undermine the Soviet Union.

There are only a few countries which can truly be described to be part of an anti-imperialist front. These countries are Cuba and the DPRK. Meanwhile, Venezuela is under threat from imperial forces overtly (ex: public support to the opposition by NED and State Department for example) and covertly (ex: CIA agents pushing for a coup) which is exacerbating and contributing violent situation within the country. While Venezuela would fall into the same category as Cuba and the DPRK, it has been, basically compromised as the government, which one could call socially democratic, is hanging on by a thread. Perhaps I do not know as much about Venezuela as I should but, to me, the current situation could have been mitigated, if not prevented, if the bourgeoisie had been expropriated. Obviously this action, which is not as simple as flicking on a light switch, could have changed the current predicament since the expropriation would have weakened the bourgeoisie in Venezuela, making it harder for the “opposition” backed by NED, USAID, and other imperial organs to gain a foothold and destabilize the country, like has been done in other countries dubbed “enemies.”

As it currently stands, there is no vote in the U$ presidential contest against the murderous empire. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary, who should accurately be called Killary, Clinton is a “hawkish” imperialist who contributed to the destruction of Libya after the 2011 imperialist war and turned the State Department into an arm of the war machine as even Ralph Nader noted. Republican Party presidential candidate the orange menace is sought by some as a “lesser evil” or “corrective” to the elitism (and warmongering) of Clinton, but he is an unpredictable, bigoted, and fascist monster. Still, Clinton is no better than the orange menace as both are basically egoists and megalomaniacs. From the edges of “acceptable debate” one may be shouting: “What about Bernie!” As it turns out, like the orange menace and Clinton, Bernie is also an imperialist, even if he is of a “moderating” or “dovish” flavor. Sanders, as the record shows, supports the continuation of the Afghanistan War, drone strikes of a “selective” quantity, and pushed for a policy to defeat ISIS via imperial proxies. To some it may have seemed that only person talking about “peace” was former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee even though his rhetoric clearly was wrapped in jingoism. Even in the October debate where one may think he was farther “Left” than Sanders on war, he just talked about the Iraq war, ending “perpetual wars,” was against arming Syrian “rebels,” and then talked about imperial “failures” along with repairing “American credibility,” finally casting himself as a “proven peacemaker.” He was almost like Dennis Kucinich who seemed very “pro-peace” but comfortably situated himself within the bourgeois Democratic Party, meaning that he cannot be relied upon to be part of an anti-imperialist front. There is no hope in the Socialist Party USA, WWP, or PSL, as they are almost splinter parties, the last two of which are neo-Trotskyist.

One can say that the Green Party is the most successful alternative party to the bourgeois Democratic and Republican Parties, which can be classified correctly as one capitalist party with “right” and “left” wings. However, the Green Party has tried to court the Sanders campaign and has reflected the campaign’s rhetoric, especially the laughable call for “political revolution” which was, as it turned out, just code for increasing voter turnout for his campaign and not at all revolutionary. So, this puts the Green Party into question itself as another bourgeois party.

Some have asked if it is possible to maintain an empire without imperialist methods. This question is important to keep in mind considering that old established and informal national security “wise man” Zbigniew Brzezinski language of U$ imperial power so he could advocate for U$-coalition building, then, as a result, incorporate and subordinate those countries considered “potential rivals.” Sure, one could define imperialism as forming and maintaining an empire, sometimes by conquest, in order to control world markets and raw materials or as the policy and practice of “seeking to dominate the economic and political affairs of underdeveloped…or weaker states.” [2] However, this definition could easily pop up in the column of some bourgeois “radical” writer as it is divorced from capitalism and ignores how imperialism is an activity for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. In his classic work, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Vladimir Lenin writes about the concentration of production in bigger enterprises, rise of monopolies (and cartels) and centralization of production as essential parts of capitalism, and that imperialism is the highest stage of development (and the monopoly stage), historically, of capitalism. [3] Many years before those bourgeois writers, like Matt Taibbi or Glenn Greenwald, would balk about corporate concentration in society, Lenin wrote that monopoly had become a fact, that capital and banking were becoming concentrated, that competition had been “transformed into monopoly,” and that a “handful of monopolists control all operations…of the…capitalist society.” [4] To any informed observer this sounds familiar to the same types of calls today, to some degree. On the topic of imperialism, Lenin argued that capitalists divide the world not due to greediness but because they are forced to by concentration of forces within capitalism and such concentration occurs in the powers of “monopolist capitalist combines” which place a few wealthy countries in a “monopolist position” in the world market, which was created by capitalism. [5] Lenin went further and said that capitalism itself had grown into a “world system of colonial oppression and financial strong violation” of much of the world’s people by a small group of so-called “advanced” states which involve the world “in their war over sharing of their booty.” [6] Beyond his comment that imperialism is “striving for annexations” and that the world is divided between usurer states and debtor states, Lenin proposed five essential features of imperialism. [7] These features are as follows [8]:

  1. “concentration of production and capital”
  2. “the merging of bank capital with industrial capital”
  3. “export of capital”
  4. “formation of international capitalist monopolies”
  5. “territorial division of the whole world among the greater capitalist powers”

There is no doubt that at the current time, a society, like in the early 20th century as Lenin put it, “for the benefit of monopolies,” still exists as does these essential aspects of imperialism. [9] The Amerikanized form of imperialism is not the same as European imperialisms before, during, and after the Berlin Conference. The U$ certainly has colonies like the “empires of old” manifested in its inhabited territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa (supposedly “self-governing” since 1967), Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. [10] However, the mainstay of the murderous empire comes in the hundreds of military bases, numbering 500 at minimum (most of which the military calls “installations” [11]), scattered across the world. The U$ imperial monster is building upon the colonial policy of capitalist states that Lenin described as completing the seizure of unoccupied territories, or those territories that do not belong to any state, on the planet. [12] U$ military bases, in foreign states that are not formally territories/colonies, states that are politically independent, can serve the same purpose of “old” imperialism: they enmesh such states so they are financially and diplomatically dependent on the United States. [13] The best example of this at the current time is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The country is formally independent but its economy, and the state itself, its dependent on foreign aid from Western capitalist powers as even “mainstream” sources admit. [14] While none of those in bourgeois circles will say it, at least not openly, there is no doubt that such dependence means that Afghanistan is effectively a colony of Western capitalist powers, mainly of the U$, despite those resisting this imposition.

Taking this into account, along with what was said earlier, it is important to chart a way forward or at least provide some thoughts. In 1939, some argued it was time for the British working class to change the British colonial system by helping to liquidate capitalist imperialism, showing they stand in a different camp than those seen as imperialist robbers” and said that imperial exploitation of South African natives is worse than the tragic condition of Jews under Nazi oppression and that such natives can easily sympathize with victims of Nazi oppression such as Jewish people. Years earlier, MN Roy (Manabendra Nath Roy), before he moved away from Marxism after World War II, had argued that the British empire was tottering, in a “state of decay,” and that it must be broken up and replaced with a “union on a socialist basis” that frees the “present industrial organism” from capitalist ownership and transforms the empire into a “voluntary economic commonwealth.” Commonwealths of that nature were created by the French and British after their respective formal empires fell with the wave of anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia from the 1940s to the 1960s, and these commonwealths have basically become a form of neo-colonialism. So, Roy’s conception does not seem to be a workable solution. Since the imperialist monster of the United States is a unique beast in many ways, different approaches will have to be tried. But, at minimum, the United States would need to close down all “foreign” (overseas and in colonies) military bases and free its colonies, formally called “territories,” from subjugation. The size of the military would need to drastically reduced, possibly turned into a defense force, as would the number of “domestic” military bases situated within the United States. The latter would require an economic re-orienting of communities dependent on the military and such. Of course, these aspects will not happen on their own. We can’t wait for the empire to fall on its own or hope that it will. Such waiting would be like boiling spaghetti without water and hoping it cooks: it isn’t going to happen unless you add water.

Sure, the ideas I floated could easily be construed as reforms and limited in their scope. That is a valid criticism. After all, the empire is more than colonies and military bases, and is more complicated, basically acting almost like a living being. Like the British empire, the US empire is “indeed in danger” but is not a “self-contained economic unit” unaffected or not threatened by “economic and industrial conditions of other countries.” An anti-imperialist front against the murderous empire is only possible if it is not only anti-capitalist but interlinks with other movements in the U$ and those standing against imperial presence in other parts of the world. Specifically such anti-imperialism could easily interlink with Black Lives Matter, regardless of what some could categorize as  a diffused and sometimes bourgeois nature, or anti-racist actions since people of color are killed by the murderous empire, an empire that is inherently ingrained with White supremacy. Additionally, with the spread of “excess” military equipment, the military and “local” police are interlinked, bringing together different struggles for justice. Many groups in the past, including the Black Panthers, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, and the Red Guard, engaged in such interlinking, so this idea is not a new one in the slightest.

They way forward isn’t even possible by looking at definitions or word origins. As noted earlier, an empire is much more than a state that unites “many territories and peoples under a single sovereign power” but it is a stage and part of capitalism itself. [15] Even defining war was an open-ended hostility, conflict, armed conflict, or prolonged fighting does not go far enough either as such a definition is absent in mentioning of capitalism or even class. [16] Still, the origins of the word empire (and imperialism) derive from a Latin word meaning “command” which implies authority, a helpful reminder that empire and imperialism are dominating and authoritarian structures. [17] Beyond all of this, those that care about bringing the empire to its knees should participate in trying to make connections of imperialism to race, class, and whatnot. At the same time, an important component is critically supporting those peoples and countries standing up to imperialism while countering those on the “Left” that scoff about “human rights” and refuse to stand in solidarity with active anti-imperialists.


Notes

[1] Chalmers Johnson. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. p. 184, 190; Chris Hedges. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. New York: Nation Books, 2010. p. 103, 147-148, 150-151.

[2] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 715

[3] Vladimir Lenin. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. New York: International Publishers, 1972. Reprint from 1939. p. 13, 16, 20, 22, 34, 59, 88.

[4] Lenin, Imperialism, p. 20, 25, 32, 25, 37.

[5] Ibid, 62, 68, 75, 82.

[6] Ibid, 10-11.

[7] Ibid, 91, 101.

[8] Ibid, 89.

[9] Ibid, 53.

[10] The U$ also controls a number of uninhabited territories all acquired before 1900: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island (claimed by Haiti), Palmyra Atoll (partially owned by The Nature Conservancy), and Wake Island. Additionally, the Guantanamo Naval Base is an illegal outpost of “extraterritorial jurisdiction” in Cuba and the U$ exercises a high degree of control in three countries, almost treating them like colonies: Palau, Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia. There are also two territories administered by Columbia but claimed by the United States: Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank. Magical Ben Norton thought he would have a short and silly post about the “5 US colonies” in which he talked about the Insular Cases, along with colonial exploitation briefly, piggybacking off what bourgeois liberal John Oliver said, and claiming that colonies can become independent by voting to do so which assumes that the vote would be honored by the U$  and discounts revolts against the colonial status by assuming the approach for independence needs to be nonviolent. This is utterly ridiculous. It also seems that Norton does not understand how capitalism and imperialism are interlinked, not even mentioning the world in his silly little article.

[11] On page five of the PDF it says that the military counts 513 “active installations” worldwide but on page 7 of the PDF the number of “DOD sites” worldwide (not inside the United States) is 704, a number that combines such sites “overseas” and in “territories.” This number apparently does not include the 42 Army National Guard Sites, noted on page 17 of the pdf, which brings the number up to 746. Now, this number is completely different from what is noted on page 19 of the PDF: that there are overseas and in US territories: 24 large military sites, 16 medium military sites, 561 small military sites, and 101 other military sites, which combine to a grand total of 701 military sites worldwide!

[12] Lenin, Imperialism, 76.

[13] Ibid, 85.

[14] Sources include: “Afghanistan’s Addiction to Foreign Aid” in The Diplomat, “Money Pit: The Monstrous Failure of US Aid to Afghanistan” in World Affairs Journal, “Afghanistan at the Crossroads” in The Diplomat, “A decade of Western aid in Afghanistan: mission unsustainable?” in Reuters, “A Blessing or a Curse? Aid Rentierism and State-building in Afghanistan” in E-International Relations, “Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy,” report by Congressional Research Service, CIA World Factbook entry on Afghanistan which says under economy heading: “…Afghanistan will remain dependent on international donor support over the next several years,” “Afghanistan’s Dependence on Foreign Aid,” Council on Foreign Relations, “The Limits of U.S. Aid in Afghanistan” in Foreign Policy, “The Hand that Feeds” in The Economist, “The Afghanistan Mess: Fed Report Says We’ll Pay Up The Nose Long After Troops Return” in New York Daily News,Fiscal Sustainability and Dwindling Foreign Aid” in Outlook Afghanistan, “After 10 years of Karzai’s rule, has life improved in Afghanistan?” in NBC News and Allissa J. Rubin’s article in the New York Times titled “World Bank Issues Alert on Afghanistan Economy” (Nov. 22, 2011).

[15] Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition, ed. Michael Agnes). Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2007. p. 465

[16] Ibid, p. 1611; Roget’s II The New Thesaurus (Expanded Edition, ed. Anne H. Soukhanov). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988. p. 1164-1165; Marc McClutcheon. Roget’s Super Thesaurus. Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998. p. 643-644.

[16] John Ayto. Dictionary of Word Origins. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990. p. 200. The word “war” derives ultimately from a German prehistoric word meaning “strife” (p. 566) but this origin does not enhance the understanding of the word war in a meaningful way to be used in anti-imperialist struggle.

Snowden, the CIA, and conspiracies

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on June 11, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Almost a month ago I wrote about celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden. Some corners of twitter criticized me for my post, basically saying that I didn’t go far enough. Some claimed that Snowden was “concocted” by the CIA and was a personality just like Mickey House (see here and here) while others claimed I had contempt for people who didn’t agree with me. There’s much more than that in terms of criticism, but I think I addressed it adequately on twitter so it seems silly to address it here. However, in this post, which I promised in the past, aims to look at Snowden’s connection to the CIA and some conspiracy theories, to put it rightly, about Snowden floating around the web.

Snowden’s story with the CIA

There is no doubt, even if you are skeptical of Snowden’s story, that he worked for the CIA He admitted this himself in a primetime interview with NBC over two years ago:

 “I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine. Now, the government might deny these things. They might frame it in certain ways, and say, oh, well, you know, he’s a low-level analyst…I’ve worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, undercover, overseas. I’ve worked for the National Security Agency, undercover, overseas. And I’ve worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency.”

In the same interview he also said that he basically, as noted above and summarized by BBC, “worked for the CIA and NSA undercover, overseas, and lectured at the Defense Intelligence Agency.” He also claimed that he was a “technical specialist…[and] a technical expert. I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top,” possibly even working at a CIA overseas station.

One may ask what he did when he worked at the CIA. One website summarizes the story, saying that in 2007 Snowden is sent to Geneva as part of IT, and is put “in charge of maintaining computer-network security for the CIA and US diplomats” with one incident souring Snowden, but he still “leaves the CIA and goes to work in the private sector” in 2009, then claims that the CIA experts may have accessed NSA documents and “handed them to Snowden” over time, perhaps, since Snowden “worked for the CIA in Geneva, in a high-level position, overseeing computer-systems security.” Wired and the New York Times don’t have the same viewpoint. Wired says that Snowden was offered a position at the CIA, “after attending a job fair focused on intelligence agencies,” with Snowden assigned to “the global communications division, the organization that deals with computer issues” at CIA headquarters at Langley. The story continues by noting that Snowden was sent to the “CIA’s secret school for technology specialists,” living in a hotel for six months and then traveling to  “Geneva, Switzerland, where the CIA was seeking information about the banking industry” in 2007, then “assigned to the US Mission to the United Nations.” The story goes on to say that in Geneva, Snowden saw “firsthand some of the moral compromises CIA agents made in the field” and goes on. The New York Times, in a June 9, 2013 article titled “Ex-Worker at C.I.A. Says He Leaked Data on Surveillance,” by Mark Mazzetti and Michael E. Schmidt, tells a different story. It describes Snowden as a “29-year-old former C.I.A. computer technician” who feared that the “C.I.A. might try to spirit him out of China, and speculating that it might even hire Asian gangs to go after him” and that he was “later hired by the C.I.A. to work on information technology security, serving in Geneva.”

Some have openly questioned if Snowden is a spy. Former CIA officer, Robert Baer, scoffed at the notion that Snowden could be considered a spy. He not only implied, laughably, that Snowden was working with the Russian government since 2007, which he couldn’t prove, basing it mainly on “his landing of Moscow” which made him “very suspicious.” If there was anything valid in what he said, it was when he declared that Snowden was “a systems administrator…[and] communicator” for the CIA in Geneva, sitting in “an office and relays messages” and then claimed that “the NSA doesn’t have spies overseas. It’s got technicians who sit in American embassies. They are not even analysts.” A much better article was by Dan Murphy, staff writer for Christian Science Monitor, who said that just because someone works for a spy agency doesn’t make them a spy and that it is “standard practice” for CIA employees overseas to get cover identities. The article continues by saying that not only is “building computer systems” not spying but that if Snowden did “have a lot of high-level spy training, it would appear that either the training stinks or he was an exceptionally poor student, judging by his actions,” including making “arrangements for his flight after he’d blown his own cover” and that there may be some intersecting of Snowden’s interests and those of the Russian government.

You can easily dismiss what these posts say and push them away.  Some have said that a “secret US government jet – previously employed in CIA “rendition” flights on which terror suspects disappeared into invisible “black” imprisonment – flew into Europe in a bid to spirit him back to America” but failed to make it fully to Moscow, only setting down and waiting at Copenhagen Airport. William Blum, a premier foreign policy analyst of U$ empire, said that “Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause” and then talked about the trials and tribulations of Philip Agee when he ran away from the CIA. Then there was former CIA director James Woolsey claiming, despite the CIA’s record as a handmaiden of imperial destruction, that Snowden had “blood on his hands” because his leaks would supposedly help “terrorists,” and CIA director John Brennan declaring that “any unauthorized disclosures that are made by individuals who have dishonored the oath of office that they raised their hand and attested to undermines this country’s security.”

Some may wonder how Snowden, assuming that the CIA did not assist him in a  covert manner, was able to get away with such leaking. Stories came out that showed that years before the leaking the CIA was suspicious of Snowden. One story said that CIA superiors of Snowden suspected in 2009 that he was “trying to break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access,” and so they decided to “decided to send him home” from his job in Geneva, but that didn’t stop him for doing something that some claimed was “wrong”: gathering documents of misdeeds, mostly of the NSA. All of these stories derive from an article in the New York Times by Eric Schmitt (October 10, 2013) titled “C.I.A. Warning on Snowden in ’09 Said to Slip Through the Cracks.” The article said that before Snowden was about to leave Geneva in 2009, his “supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his personnel file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits, as well as a troubling suspicion.” The article then claimed that “the red flags went unheeded” and the “supervisor’s cautionary note and the C.I.A.’s suspicions apparently were not forwarded to the N.S.A. or its contractors.” The Times also said that in mid-2006 Snowden got an “information technology job at the C.I.A” and that despite formal credentials, “he gained a top-secret clearance and a choice job under State Department cover in Geneva.” Later on, of course, the Justice Department sued a private company, US Investigation Services, which “provides background checks of the staff being recruited by the US state agencies.”

Another part of this story doesn’t involve Greenwald’s heroic casting of Snowden, like in this opinion piece, Snowden’s claim about the CIA keeping documents away from Congress or the angry CIA veteran who hates Snowden’s guts. This part of the story is the supposed “hilarious” CIA review of Glenn Greenwald’s book on the whole Snowden story, as you can call it, which developed since 2013. The review, by Hayden Peake, in Studies in Intelligence covers many books, including three about Snowden.

Despite what some said about the review, the FIRST SENTENCE of the review praises the book as “the most complete, though far from the most objective account of the Snowden affair to date.” That doesn’t sound like they don’t like the book. The review goes in to talk about the viewpoint of “lawyer-journalist Glenn Greenwald” with the book focusing on the relationship between Snowden and Greenwald, with a “quasi-clandestine meeting in Hong Kong.” The review, of course, goes on to claim that “intelligence issues” led to the adoption of mass surveillance by the NSA, that Snowden should have followed “official whistle-blower procedures” and supposedly ignoring “other interpretations regarding the legality of the NSA’s collection programs.” Peake then claims to be “surprised” that Greenwald harshly “attacks selected members of the media” for their efforts to  discredit him and that Greenwald criticizes “the Bush and Obama administrations and various private individuals,” along with calling numerous other journalists “dutiful spokespeople for political officials.” Even if you accept that Greenwald is adversarial, it is clear that with statements like this he is boosting his own ego and acting like he is more independent that he is in reality. The review closes by saying that Greenwald says Snowden’s actions are justified and that “journalists have the absolute right to be the final arbiters of what to publish.” Peake, as part of the establishment, doesn’t like the latter, and claims that Greenwald has an “often bitter ad hominem rationale for this” but there is no doubt he is correct that this book is “unlikely to be the last word on the subject.” All in all, I actually think the review is MUCH more positive toward Greenwald that many websites are claiming, even though it obviously tries to cut him down in certain ways. This review is also telling because it shows that Greenwald is not as opposed to the establishment and adversarial then he claims.

The theories, the theories

Now it is time to move onto the conspiracy theories as they should be accurately called. Before that, it is important to make two points. For one, there is no theory that Snowden read all the documents, since he, as he admitted to liberal blowhard John Oliver, that he didn’t read them all. Secondly, despite some (see here and here) reposting a “story” about Snowden as a “lethal operative” and “lethal killer,” it turns out that the website of that “story” is a satire site.

The first conspiracy theory comes from a site called “Veterans Today” which holds viewpoints in one could call the “Alex Jones camp” in the conspiracy theory world. In the article, Webster Tarpley argues that Snowden is likely “a limited hangout operation, in which carefully selected and falsified documents and other materials are deliberately revealed by an insider who pretends to be a fugitive.” The article also claims that Snowden’s relations have benefited the CIA, that “Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon papers” along with “the case of Assange and Wikileaks” being limited hangout operations. Tarpley then goes on the say that “limited hangouts have been around for a very long time” and goes on to claim that these operations cats someone as “the darling of the controlled corporate media.” Tarpley goes into strange theories land by claiming that Ellsberg’s Pentagon papers were “doctored”  and claims that those really in opposition to the establishment are “kidnapped, renditioned or liquidated,” which pushes away the obvious response by such establishment of ignoring critics. Tarpley goes on and on about Cass Sunstein involved in “creating” Wikileaks in his view,claims that Norman Solomon is a “former State Department public diplomacy asset” and that limited hangouts say little. He goes on to claim that “Assange’s Wikileaks document dump” did little to seriously damage “one US, British, or Israeli covert operation or politician,” that Assange “had a hand in preparing one of the largest destabilization campaigns mounted by Anglo-American intelligence since 1968” and much more. In sum, even if Tarpley’s view has some merit, it is hard to take him seriously as he has only ONE quote in the whole article, has no links to other sources, and seems to just be writing a lot without verification. While I say all this, I am aware that Ellsburg, Assange, and Snowden should be criticized, but to call them intelligence operations seems far-fetched and just putting oneself down a rabbit hole with no escape.

In the same realm, could be this discussion, but is more likely this post which builds off Tarpley. The writer, a certain”Jay,” claims that there is a charade around Snowden, a bogus narrative around people such as Assange, goes as far as to claim that the Chinese Communist Party and Mao were created by the OSS and CIA, forgetting the change over time, specifically since 1976, which made China to be more sympathetic with the West, and that there is a “Snowden Psy Op.” Where is no do doubt that Assange and Snowden are likely not in as much danger as supporters claim, to claim they are intelligence assets and other wacky things like the Chinese Communist Party created by certain U$ covert elements is something that is so ridiculous that it isn’t worth taking anything that this “Jay” says seriously at all since he is so deluded that he is running around in circles.

The final post addresses a supposed division between the CIA and NSA. In the post,  anonymous intelligence community sources claimed to the Wayne Madsen Report that Snowden got “access to and released tens of thousands of classified NSA documents” because a CIA faction “was growing increasingly alarmed over the massive surveillance system controlled by NSA” and that “highly compartmented CIA covert operations abroad were made known to NSA” which did not make them happy. The article then goes on to claim that “a group of active and retired CIA officers, in addition to CIA contractors, set out to expose the NSA’s massive surveillance operations” and that Snowden “was chosen by the CIA faction as the person best positioned to collect NSA documents and leak them to the media.” It is also claimed that a civilian “who worked at the NSA Regional Security Operations Center in Kunia, Hawaii” worked with Snowden and that “the CIA faction helped arrange, through its own back channels, safe passage for Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow.” The site where the article is reposted then claims that there is no way of confirming ” whether NSA is actually being brought down by CIA or not” but that “Snowden’s transition from zero to immaculate spy was managed by Booz Allen and CIA” and that even if this is partly true, the war “between CIA and NSA…is representative of a collapse of the elite police force.”

The last post actually seems to be the most plausible of all the theories while the others have problems of verification or are just so off-the-wall as to not be taken seriously. One can easily dismiss all of these theories as hogwash. I am almost tempted do this myself. Still, it is should always be the case that people should think outside the box and challenge themselves.

Closing

I could look more into this and bring in some posts by Douglas Valentine, whose book on the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Strength of the Wolf) I liked very much. I could look into statements by Snowden under his username of “Truehooha” but I feel that has already been done. While I could have written as a piggyback off Fivek’s post about the problems of the peace movement in the United States, that is for another day. In the future I may use some of the science fiction books I have read on the way to work to write posts on numerous subjects, including but not limited to, animal rights, possibly in relation to the incident on the Cincinnati Zoo, and a criticism of capitalism, of course. As I continue in my new job, which is a temp job, I won’t have much time to write posts such as this, but I may even write some narrative posts. We’ll see what happens. Anyway, I look forward to all of your comments as always.

Snowden’s “adversarial” deception

Snowden as spotted in Russia in October 2013

Originally  published on the Leftist Critic blog on May 12, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. At the time I read Tarzie’s blog, The Rancid Honeytrap, regularly. The posted there in August 2017, over a year ago. Since, the blog has been totally silent, the same going for Sassy Sorenstein’s 100 Flamingos and a wordpress called sillroasty, linked to on the side of Tarzie’s blog, while some of the blogs linked like Once Upon a Time (on blogspot), blckdgrd (blogpost),and Nathan Fuller’s wordpress still seem active.

Recently, I was pursuing Twitter when an interview with celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden popped up. I’ve criticized Snowden before on this blog as supporting Apple, a company that collects much data but claims it is “pro-privacy.” This post looks at a recent Q&A with Snowden in the Columbia Journalism Review which was promoted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a foundation which has Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Snowden himself, John Cusack, John Perry Barlow, Laura Poitras, Micah Lee, Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, and Xeni Jardin on its board of directors. This organization, founded in 2012, also thinks Pentagon projects like Tor are great. This post could examine such a foundation, but since Snowden, as he admitted himself, is already a celebrity whom has wide influence it is best to look at his words and their symbolic meaning. [1] In sum, I read it, as Tarzie would say, so you don’t have to.

Snowden, of course, in his privileged position, can talk about the bourgeois media from afar. He claims that there is a “changing nature of the public’s relationship to media” with the media “strong” but less willing to “use that sort of power and influence because of its increasing commercialization.” He goes on to say that back in the past, the media culture assured that media was “intended to be a public service” but now that is lost because of “the 24-hour news cycle.” This “observation” fundamentally misses the role of the bourgeois media in and of itself. Snowden by almost acting nostalgic in acting like media in the past served the public is almost in line with the speech by Edward R. Murrow in 1958 saying that television “can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire…[but] only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box” which arguably removes the role of television in capitalist society. Even if one pushes that aside, it is silly to say there is a “changing nature” of mass media in U$ society considering that the bourgeois media has always been tied to the profit motive to sell more papers (in the case of newspapers) and garner a bigger audience, while keeping in place the existing capitalist system. Did Snowden not watch the classic movies Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) and Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), both of which warned of the dangers of concentration of media control and power? This is not anything new, not in the slightest.

Worst of all is Snowden’s comments on The New York Times. He almost acts aghast that even the Times, which he implies is a paragon of virtue, is not challenging the government. As the Times‘s own media kit shows, their audience is predominantly male, over 35 years old, college graduates, and in a professional/managerial position, along with total expenditures for the audience as a whole in the hundreds of millions, making them all some level of the bourgeoisie. The International Business Times has similar data showing a predominantly male and college graduate audience with differing political perspectives mostly ranging from moderate to liberal. Similarly, the International New York Times has even more high-level audience with a high percentage in senior management and a household income over $367,000 a year. This shows that Times basically has a bourgeois audience to give it “All the News Lies That’s Fit to Print” which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Snowden goes on to claim that competition in the media environment means that “institutions are becoming less willing to serve the public to the detriment of themselves.” He further adds that this role is “typically exercised through the editors” and that “the distance between allegation and fact, at times, makes all the difference in the world.” This “observation” makes a number of assumptions. For one, it implies that bourgeois media outlets have a “duty to the public.” That is utter crap and he knows it. Any capitalist or capitalist business that does not make a profit will go out of business. Secondly, his focus on editors is misleading. I say this because he NEVER mentions the role of advertisers in determining media content, as even Noam Chomsky has outlined in his Propaganda Model or Michael Parenti noted in his varied books on the subject. This shows the weakness of his analysis and how it fails to take into account the reality of bourgeois media.

There’s more horribleness. Snowden goes on to say that there is more competition in the current media environment despite the fact that a small handful of companies have control of much of the bourgeois media in the U$, especially in the print, telecom, cable, and tech sectors, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Gannett, and Tribune Publishing Company, to name a few:

Made using Chartgo. Data from a reformist NGO called Free Press. Usually it is said that six corporations (GE, News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS) control 90% of the media in the U$, but this may misconstrue the power of corporate control in certain areas more than others as one has to define what qualifies “media” and “news” which is harder and harder to do these days. Free Press says, themselves, that “giant corporations own more and more of our news media. Focused only on the bottom line, they’re cutting journalists and gutting newsrooms nationwide” but makes no claims about media consolidation. If one measured by reach of their stations, this could create a different picture, perhaps.

Snowden then claims that such competition among publishers has led to “hybrid publications” like BuzzFeed, which in his words creates “an enormous amount of trash and cruft” with their “content…engineered to be more attention getting, even though they have no public value at all” and that “they have no news value at all.” He later tempers this by saying that “if it’s not going to be BuzzFeed, it’s going to be somebody else” and that “this isn’t a criticism of any particular model” and that these outlets “don’t have a journalistic role, it’s a reportorial role.” I think he has a good point about BuzzFeed. However, I think his description of attention-getting content and having no public value applies all of the Celebrity Left personalities. Hence, his own words could be used to describe his own Twitter stream, which has, as he said about BuzzFeed, “no public value at all.” After all, aren’t secretive oligarchs basically controlling media and social media?

Snowden goes on to talk about the James Rosen and AP case. He argues that this is “suddenly chilling” because it silences “the traditional work of journalism” but then claims that journalists need to use tradecraft used by the CIA because using VPNs could “get you in real trouble in these areas of the world” like Bangladesh. Yet again, this perpetrates the idea that the “West is best” and even justifies the CIA as something to model after. This shouldn’t be a surprise since he admits that before he came out as the NSA whistleblower he had “never talked to a journalist in any substantive capacity” and that he worked as an intelligence officer for the CIA and NSA, saying “everything is a secret and you’ve got two different kinds of cover.” This is disturbing to say the least because it makes it seem that Snowden is proud of what he did for the NSA and CIA, not calling them out and even calling for them to be abolished, at minimum. What he did for the CIA for SIX YEARS he hasn’t talked about much, if at all. Remember when he said this in 2013: “I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA. I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.” What utter bullcrap is that? Anyway, the most laughable thing he says is that “the secrets are becoming public at an accelerated pace.” I doubt that very much. After all, as Cryptome reported in February at the current rate “it will take 20-620 years to free all documents” gathered by him, with governments and business benefiting the most, along with media and NGOs benefiting as well. I’ll get to the Panama Papers later.

It doesn’t get any better. Snowden states that the government may even engage in prior restraint and that there need to be “institutions working beyond borders in multiple jurisdictions” so that “the journalists could play games, legally and journalistically more effectively and more quickly than the government.” He then goes on to engage in one of his many self-congratulatory statements claiming that “I was, in fact, quite famous for criticizing the press.” Putting aside his ego-supporting statement, the fact that he supports those he considers journalists (whether  they are or not) “playing games” is worrisome. It basically means that journalists, or those he considers journalists, can just be pawns in “challenging” the government!

From here, there are a number of self-congratulatory and hence egoist remarks from Snowden himself. He claims to be surprised by the  “impact” of his revelations, claims they are special, claiming that unlike in 2006 when “there was a warrantless wiretapping story in The New York Times” and that his revelations “transformed” the public debate. Then he tries to act humble by saying “I personally see myself as having a quite minor role” and that “I was the mechanism of revelation for a very narrow topic of governments,” that he didn’t have access to court orders from the Department of Justice. He then goes on to boast that he predicted how people would treat him, that the media were useful in making an argument and reporting his leaks. He then almost claims like he is an authority who can tell journalists (or those he considers journalists) how to report a story and says that “my ultimate goal was simply to get this information back in the hands of the public” despite the fact that much of what he found has NOT been released as of yet. He then goes further and claims that he believes in “traditional American democracy” whatever that is, a term that refers to an idolized form of bourgeois democracy in the US. He even goes further and says that “if I had stayed in place at the NSA as a source and they had asked me for this document…[it] actually brought risks upon them that could have led to new constraints upon journalism.” That’s so nice of him to look out for the NSA. Not! Snowden also claims that working with journalists (or those he considered journalists) changed his “understanding of journalism” and that “public knowledge of the truth is more important than the risks that knowledge creates for a few.” I don’t even think is worth analyzing what he says in a self-congratulatory fashion as it is all wrapped up in puffing up his ego like a puffer-fish blows itself up to take in air or water so they aren’t as vulnerable to predators.

His self-congratulatory statements couple right with those in which he says that Glenn Greenwald and co are great. In his magical view, Glenn Greenwald. Ewan MacAskill, and Laura Poitras, along with the Washington Post‘s Barton Gellman, “simply represented a system that I did not believe could be overcome before the story could be put out. By the time the government could get their ducks in a row and try to interfere with it, that would itself become the story.” Once again, this implies that all of these writers are somehow adversarial, a view that is utterly laughable. It’s about as bad as the “glowing” response they had to the new fawning Snowden movie by Oliver stone. Lets not forget that Greenwald was once a lawyer for Big Tobacco companies. As Mark Ames writes,

And this is where whistleblower-irony becomes so dense, it collapses on itself: Because one of Wachtell Lipton’s young associates working on the Philip Morris lawsuit against ABC-TV was a lawyer by the name of…Glenn Greenwald. We know Greenwald worked at Wachtell Lipton’s New York office at the time of Wachtell’s lawsuit because Greenwald himself has talked about working for Wachtell, beginning in 1993 as a summer associate, then joining out of law school in 1994, and staying on until the end of 1995…Perhaps Greenwald had no idea that the law firm he chose to work for was representing Philip Morris in the most talked about case of 1994. That even though his own boss, Henry Wachtell, was a regular on national TV news defending their tobacco clients, he was still oblivious. Greenwald perhaps didn’t watch television. Or read newspapers? It’s reasonable to assume Greenwald—ever the diligent researcher—must have joined Wachtell fully aware that they were helping gag whistleblowers and threatening journalists: Greenwald says that he chose to work for Wachtell in 1994 after being recruited by over a dozen top law firms. But of course that doesn’t necessarily mean he worked on the specific Philip Morris case. Except that a billing ledger discovered in the tobacco library shows Greenwald’s name in a Wachtell Lipton bill to Philip Morris…Other Wachtell Lipton memos show Greenwald’s name prominently displayed on the letterhead in aggressive, threatening letters against ABC-TV, against whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, and against whistleblower Merrell Williams…One Wachtell letter to ABC’s lawyers with Greenwald’s name up top, dated December 14, 1995, warns that Wigand’s testimony in a Mississippi tobacco trial is “in direct defiance of a Kentucky Court order”— and demands that ABC turn over their source’s private testimony to Wachtell Lipton…Greenwald’s name appears on the Wachtell Lipton letterhead of threatening legal letter after letter—targeting ABC-TV and tobacco whistleblowers …the question is, why has he never said peep about Wigand and Merrell Williams? Greenwald styles himself as the most fearless outspoken defender of whistleblowers today—and yet he has absolutely nothing to say about the most famous whistleblowers of the 1990s, a case he worked on from the other side…Again, in the two decades since, whistleblower champion Glenn Greenwald has never said a single word about this case or about the role his law firm played in crushing TV investigative journalism. As far as our research can tell, Greenwald has never taken a position on tobacco laws or  spoken about the horrific death toll smoking is taking…Besides Greenwald’s belief that Big Pharma should be able to sell all of its drugs to any adult who wants them, a very tobacco-industry-esque argument—there’s little to suggest anything like regret, remorse, or any reaction whatsoever to his work on behalf of Philip Morris’ lawsuit against adversarial journalism and whistleblowers. Quite the contrary, Greenwald went on to a close friendly (and paid) relationship with the CATO Institute, one of the tobacco industry’s most active friends in the think tank world.

Back to Snowden, he claims that “the more powerful the institution, the more skeptical one should be,” talks about Daniel Ellsberg, how Greenwald represents the “purest form” of journalist that he doesn’t see it as a problem that he has “too much faith” in the press. He goes on to say that what need to be changes are “the values of the people in these institutions that are producing these policies or programs.” Yet again, this pseudo-change sentiment is a joke. Snowden of course does not want the system to crumble or even challenge entrenched bourgeois values. But neither does Greenwald or any of the other Celebrity Left personalities.

Most interesting of all is what he says about Twitter, claiming that “individuals can build audiences to speak with directly” which is deceptive because inherently some will be able build bigger audiences than others. He claims that “whether it’s a hundred people or a million people, individuals can build audiences to speak with directly” which is a way that new media actors and “malicious actors” end up exploiting “what are perceived as new vulnerabilities in media control of the narrative.” He goes on to say that on Twitter “there are a lot of celebrities out there on Twitter, but really they’re just trying to maintain an image, promote a band, be topical, remind people that they exist. They’re not typically effecting any change, or having any kind of influence, other than the directly commercial one.” Once again, like what he said about BuzzFeed, this analysis can easily apply to himself and other Celebrity Left figures. Arguably they promote an image (a brand to be perfectly frank) and aren’t really making any change, at least not that which matters. At the same time, these personalities do have an influence and he is wrong to say that celebrities do not typically have an influence because they definitely do. For instance, if Beyonce did not have the influence she did, supported not only by her own wealth but thinkpieces across the internet, then there would be no one pushing her songs and image (or brand) as pro-“feminist” or  pro-“black power.”

Near the end of the interview, Snowden claims that there is much that can be done to move forward, at least in the way he wants. First of all, he does not call for eliminating espionage laws, but he claims that there should be “an international framework” for protecting whistleblowers, and claims that the way to implement this is “culture” and a “press that’s more willing and actually eager to criticize government than they are today.” He goes on to say that countries across the world “are embracing the idea of state secrets” and that “we’re increasingly monitored and tracked and reported, quantified and known and influenced” while politicians are “becoming less reachable and also less accountable.” Yet again, Snowden is acting like everything will work out and that capitalist governments will serve their subjects. This is patently absurd. Additionally to claim that the media will  criticize the government, he is once again pushing away the importance of the profit motive, a motive that shows that no one can just push for the bourgeois media to be reformed as it is a press that is fatally flawed.

Beyond his self-congratulatory message that his revelations has an impact on “the publication on the culture of government,” his laughably optimistic (and incorrect) ideas that “secrecy will not hold forever…the secrets are becoming public at an accelerated pace,” he then goes into almost defending Facebook. He claims that everything will be fine if companies like Facebook are “selective” about certain posts to take down and have no restrictions whatsoever, but then asks if private companies should determine “the limits of public conversations.” He then spews some words which aren’t important to mention. At the end of his Q&A Snowden claims he has an answer: moving to “public policing”:

“The real solutions here are much more likely to be in terms of entirely new institutions that bound the way law enforcement works, moving us away from the point of military conflict, secret conflict, and into simply public policing. There’s no reason why we could not have an international counter-terrorism force that actually has universal jurisdiction. I mean universal in terms of fact, as opposed to actual law.”

Regardless of his qualification about what “universal” means, this proposition of an “international counter-terrorism force” is ridiculous. After all, he is naive to think such a force would not be used for imperialist purposes. At the same time, he may think his idea is fine since he is ignoring and/or doesn’t recognize where power lies in capitalist society and in capitalism worldwide: with the bourgeoisie whom oppress the proletariat

We finally move onto the Drone Papers. Snowden claims that “releasing” these “papers” was an “extraordinary act of public service on the part of a whistleblower within the government to get the public information that’s absolutely vital about things that we should have known more than a decade ago.” He goes onto say that these papers are “things that we really need to know to be able to analyze and assess policies” but that this was denied by”major” media outlets like the Times but that The Intercept “saved” the day as “one journalistic institution that breaks the story.” To be honest, this is utterly ridiculous. For one, as Cyrptome’s most recent tally shows, at most, 15.24% of data/files of the Panama Papers have been released but more accurately, the percentage released to date is .0021%. If Snowden, Greenwald and co actually had courage they would call for all of the documents to be released and put in a searchable archive like the Cablegate search, which now includes cables from the 1970s and 2000s.

There is more I’d like to say about the Panama Papers here. For one the whistleblower who revealed the information frames himself almost as a crusader for justice and goes on to explain his ideas, along with claiming he is bringing about a “digital revolution.” which fall into the bourgeois political spectrum nicely. But then at one point he declares the following:

For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own, as was my decision to share the documents with Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International  Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.

To me this almost seems like a dodge. He is claiming that he is independent of such forces. However, even if he did not work such entities it is still possible one could say that he could be manipulated, I don’t see why not. Let us consider before going forward that VOA, an U$ government propaganda outlet promoted the Panama Papers with a guide to read them. Also, we should recognize that one of the organizations that is releasing this information, the Center for Public Integrity, is funded by big foundations such as the Open Society Foundation and Ford Foundation along with George Soros’s Open Society Institute. Should we ignore the views of Swiss banker whistleblower Bradley Birkenfield who said the following to CNBC:

“The CIA I’m sure is behind this, in my opinion. The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, Argentina and we don’t see one U.S. name. Why is that? Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation.”

Should we ignore that USAID is basically funding ICIJ and by extension this Panama Papers release? After all, USAID is basically an appendage of the murderous empire. Should we ignore how media, such as The Guardian, which Snowden would laud with praise, twisted the revelations to implicate Russian President Vladmir Putin in corruption? Should we ignore how the liberal media outlets like Truthdig, Slate, New York Magazine, and PBS News Hour are promoting the Panama Papers? Should we ignore who funds the Center for Public Integrity or how Wikileaks and Greenwald are promoting the releases? There is much more on the Panama Papers, but it can be convincingly argued that the releases and the papers themselves are a form of negative propaganda.

I could go on with this post, even citing some of the articles by Douglas Valentine, but I think what I have said so far is sufficient. Perhaps I could have said more, but this post is just one of the many criticisms of Snowden and celebrity left personalities, something that few do because they are sucked in by the allure of celebrity or their veneer of being adversarial. That is all.


Notes

[1] In a fawning interview with The Nation, this exchange ensued:

The Nation: Speaking of films, we understand that in addition to Laura Poitras’s documentary Citizenfour, a couple of others will be made about you.

Snowden: Anything to get people talking about the issues is great. I’m not a movie guy. I don’t know all this stuff that comes with celebrity. I don’t know who the actors will be and stuff like that. But anybody who wants to talk about the issues—that’s great.

The Nation: You already are a celebrity.

Snowden: People say that, but I’ve only had to sign autographs for “civ-libs” types. And I autograph court orders.

The Nation: Maybe, but you need a strategy of how you’re going to use your celebrity, for better or worse. You own it. You can’t get rid of it.

Snowden: [laughs] Well, that’s kind of damning!

Iran at a crossroads

Nelson Mandela meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, a screenshot from 0:12 of this video, which is related to an article where Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjami said that Mandela has told him that “Iran is the most important ideal destination for South African people as [the] Islamic republic has experienced many difficulties over its resistance and dictatorship.”
Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on May 10, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Back in January, I wrote about Iran beset by the forces of Western imperialism. I gave a more informed view of the capture of ten US sailors and two navy boats at the time, gave a broader picture of US imperialism, noted that Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist, in  a sense (probably more accurate to call them anti-U$), but is also religiously conservative. I concluded by saying that Iran has a choice: “either it bows to…Western imperialism…or it resists Western influence as the hardliners want…[but] whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the capitalist system more now than it has [been] in the past.” This article aims to expand on this by examining responses to the U$ Supreme Court decision forcing Iran to pay $2 billion to victims of terrorist attacks, with this accusation based on only one NSA intercept, apparently. Additionally, I aim to provide an even more holistic viewpoint of Iran’s place on the international stage.

The US Supreme Court’s ruling and the Iranian response

As the bourgeois media noted, the 6-2 ruling meant that Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi, lost and that over $2.6 billion of Iranian assets were frozen in 2012 by President Obama. [1] It was said this money was needed to be seized to satisfy a previous judgment and pay the American plaintiffs, giving them “justice” and “accountability” for supposedly backing the 1983 bombs in Beirut, among other attacks. Interestingly, John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the decision, written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg which justified a 2012 law passed to help the plaintiffs as aiding “in the enforcement of federal-court judgments,” with Roberts saying that Congress was “commandeering the courts to make a political judgment look like a judicial one.” [2] Ginsburg also declared that this decision “provides a new standard clarifying that, if Iran owns certain assets, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks will be permitted to executive against those assets,” so expect more cases supporting such seizures in the future. I could go on, examining how the Supreme Court assisted victims of what they declared was “Iran-sponsored acts of terrorism,” and the judgement itself, but I think it just best to let the reader read the judgment for themselves. Instead, I wish to, in this section, mention the responses from figures in the upper echelons of Iran’s government,representing the Iranian bourgeoisie, which have been not mentioned in the bourgeois media.

The Iran was rightly up and arms about this ruling. On April 22, the spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Jaberi Ansari said in a speech in New York that “the ruling has mocked international law…such [a] verdict is stealing the assets and properties of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and added that the US government should compensate Iran for any damages “inflicted on Iran as a result of the ruling,” with Iran, long “rejected allegations of involvement in the 1983 Beirut bombing.” The same day, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blasted the ruling. He said that Iran does “not recognize the court’s ruling and the US government knows this well…whatever action it [the United States government] takes with respect to Iran’s assets will make it accountable in the future and it should return these assets to Iran.” Also that day Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Seyed Abbas Araqchi, also condemned the ruling. He told reporters in Vienna that this move is “exactly in violation of international law and it can be considered as an international robbery. We do not officially recognize the U.S. court’s decision because it has confiscated and in fact robbed Iranian assets in a completely non-judicial manner by violating international norms.” Many days later, Zarif again blasted the ruling with even harsher words that almost echoed what Araqchi said. He argued in an interview with The New Yorker, with some quotes reprinted in Iran Daily, that he had lost “every respect for U.S. justice,” adding powerfully the following:

“…the judgment by the Supreme Court and…by a New York circuit court deciding that Iran should pay damages for 9/11 are the height of absurdity. How would you explain Iran being held accountable for the damages to the victims of 9/11—and others being absolved of any responsibility, those who were actually responsible for it? These cases cannot stand in any serious civilized court of law…people can legislate in other countries to confiscate American assets. [similar to what was said on Twitter by VNGiapaganda]  Would you be happy with that? The United States has committed a lot of crimes against Iranians, against the people of Vietnam, the people of Afghanistan, the people of Iraq. Can they legislate in their own countries for every collateral damage suffered because of American bombing, for every person who was tortured by the Savak, which was created by the United States, those people can claim money from the United States and go confiscate it? Would you be willing to accept it? So why should we accept the Supreme Court ruling? The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It [the recent court decision] is theft…highway robbery. And believe me, we will get it back.”

In the rest of interview, there were numerous other observations by Zarif. He said that the Saudis stymied Iranian efforts to work with neighbors in the Persian Gulf, that he wants to see European banks doing business in his country “without fear of U.S. retaliation,” that hostile policies aimed at Iran have to stop, and that the U$ owes Iran for giving Saddam Hussein “intelligence to hit our civilians with chemical weapons.” He also said that Iranian defense is “not  subject to bargaining,” that the process forward in Syria should be put “in the hands of the Syrian people” and declared that people shouldn’t consider Iran a monolith. Elsewhere, in a statement picked up by conservative media, it quoted Zarif as saying that “the Iranian government does not recognize U.S. extra-territorial law and considers the U.S. court ruling to blockade Iranian funds null and voice and in gross violation of international law…if they [Iranian funds] are plundered, we will lodge a complaint with the ICJ for reparation.” The original source of this quote clarified that there was a wrongly translated part about lodging a complaint with the ICJ, with Zarif saying that Iran will “claim compensation from the US administration” if Iranian assets are confiscated, that John Kerry has “got to know our protest since the US court made such illegal action,” and that a committee was formed to investigate how this happened, in order to prevent “repetition of such cases and…how to prevent such an illegal action to take effect.”

Later in April, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, spoke in a related note about the U$ intimidating foreign banks so they don’t engage in business with Iran, representing a part of the bourgeoisie. He said, and I quote,

“the major reason for major international banks’ refusal to cooperate with Iran is the Iranophobia that Americans have been promoting…there is no place in the region more secure than Iran and the conditions in our country in more secure than in the US where several people are killed every day and is even more secure than the European countries.”

Earlier this month, Iran’s parliament also voted against the verdict. Iranian legislators reiterated that the U$ court ruling contradicts “international law and order,” with the Vice-Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Hassan Abourorabifard, saying that the ruling is “baseless, unreasonable and invalid, “also saying that “the Iranian nation will strongly safeguard its rights.” The article, and one that is similar to it, also quoted the Iranian Vice-President for Legal Affairs, Elham Aminzadeh saying that Iran had filed a lawsuit against the US at the International Court Justice, and that “the government has powerfully stood against the practice of this ruling because the assets belong to the (Iranian) nation and should be spend on its welfare.” The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, was also quoted as saying that “US officials have not been bound to their promises towards Iran since the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, but they should know that Iran’s hands are not tied for taking reciprocal measures.” Even the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, representing the pro-Western moderate faction of the bourgeoisie, said at a cabinet meeting

“that a court or judiciary in a corner of the world wants to decide about the Iranian nation’s rights and properties is fully illegal and against the international laws and the central banks’ legal immunity…The Iranian nation will stand against this incorrect ruling, and the Islamic Republic and its government will use all their power to restore the Iranian nation’s rights.”

Some strange readers may still laugh and say that there is evidence that Iran was involved in 1983 Beirut bombings, maybe even that they should be “punished.” Some may even  think that Iran somehow owes U.S. victims, of what some laughably call “Iranian terrorism,” $53 billion dollars! Anyway, I looked at some of the available evidence that claims this is the case. The claims that Iran was involved include accusations that it gave Hezbollah “approval and funding,” funding from “Iran’s senior government officials” as this CNN article claims, with the lawsuits just happened to be filed after 2001, and as claimed by one federal judge (also noted here), that “Hezbollah was formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was completely reliant on Iran.” The best evidence of all of this is a magical document, revealed at the March 2003 trial (note: this is the site of horrid anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman): a NSA “intercept of a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran to Hojjat ol-eslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus,” which is not available to the public only summarized by a judge. The plaintiffs who just won their case, in what was an act of robbery, must have been overjoyed when in 2003 a court found that the Iranian Central Bank was “legally responsible for providing material financial and logistical support to help carry out this tragic attack on the 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.”

Anyway, a section of a wikipedia page on this subject claims that at the time a group called the “Islamic Jihad” claimed responsibility for the bombings but that Reagan officials believed that Iran and/or Syria was responsible for the bombings, and eventually Hezbollah, with a Lebanese author claiming that Iran and Syria helped “organize the bombing,” while some others even say that Mossad was responsible. Interestingly enough, the CIA was the first to blame Iran groups and then claim there was “Iranian-sponsored terrorism” and it was the bombing of an embassy by what the CIA claimed was “overwhelming…evidence” pointing to someone opening with “Iranian supporter under the cover name of Islamic Jihad” and some magical callers claiming they were part of Hezbollah. As the CIA said on their website, the Islamic Jihad Organization “claimed responsibility for the Beirut embassy bombing.” In a 2009 article by Muhammad Sahimi argues the following:

“…to this date, no one can point to the true culprits with any great deal of certainty. Iran may have had an indirect role in the attacks, but…the evidence is not conclusive. If Iran played a role, it was in the context of the Iran-Iraq War…an unknown organization calling it the Islamic Jihad [not the Palestine group] took responsibility for the bombings…some experts believe that the Islamic Jihad was the forefather of Hezbollah…there is however no consensus about when the Lebanese Hezbollah was formed…Hezbollah…has always vehemently denied that it had any role in the attacks. Due to close relations between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran, those who insist that Hezbollah already existed in 1982 or 1983 tend to also accuse the Islamic Republic of being behind the Beirut bombings. Iran did play a fundamental role in the formation of Hezbollah…it is also true that with Syria’s support, Iran began stationing military personnel…in Lebanon…but departed by 1989…Robert Baer, a CIA agent in Beirut…had concluded that Iran…was the key player behind the embassy bombing…many books and articles have been published on the attacks, but…we still remain in the dark.”

A conservative site, which takes the view that Hezbollah was responsible, notes that the bombing killed 63 people, with many of those killed being from “the CIA’s important Beirut station,” almost implying that the group that engaged in the attack knew of the CIA’s presence. Similarly, libertarian James Bovard, in CounterPunch, does not challenge this placing of responsibility, but says that “the U.S. embassy was a sitting duck for terrorist assault” and how this connected to the “debacle” in Lebanon. As noted in the quote above, Robert Baer and his team concluded, at the time, that Hezbollah was not responsible for the bombing in Beirut, but that it was the Islamic Jihad, one of the “three dozen militias of various persuasion[s] operating just in Beirut in the early 1980’s,” or maybe even the PLO was involved. Then there’s the supposed mastermind of the attacks (if you trust U$ officials) who was claimed to be part of Hezbollah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, by unknown assailants.

I could go more into this, but I do think it is clear that it is not clear cut that there was Iranian involvement in this 1983 bombing of the U$ embassy in Beirut.

Iran’s geopolitical role in the region and its history

In recent years, the geopolitical role of Iran has undoubtedly increased. After all, it is in a strategic location bordering the Persian Gulf, along with U$-allied states of Afghanistan and Iraq, which could arguably be called imperial proxies. The U$, which should more accurately be described as a murderous imperial monster, is continuing to restrict Iran’s economy. Back in March, this monster and its allies urged more sanctions for Iranian missile tests, which were obviously a defensive measure.  As Iran’s Deputy Foreign minister, Araqchi, who was mentioned earlier, put it correctly, “US enmity is endless and still continues against the Iranian government and nation.” This has shown itself to be true when in April, the spokesperson for the State Department, Mark Toner, declared that “the administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the US financial system,” which was echoed by President Obama. If even a legal fellow of the bourgeois National Iranian American Council, which I’ll talk about more later, says that Obama should engage in more sanctions relief, then that is telling.

In response to such imperial assault, there have been, not surprisingly, measures and statements that Iran will not hesitate to defense itself. Most recently, even President Rouhani said that Iran would take drastic measures if there were any delays in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif added to this that Iran was requiring the Western countries to honor their commitments to this deal. The most insightful comment was from the defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. He implied that U$ presence in the region “stirs insecurity” in the region and then blaming Iran, furthering saying that “Iran will decisively confront any menacing passage through the Strait of Hormuz” and that it was Iran’s right to hold military exercises. His insight manifested itself in this comment: “We warn the Americans not to repeat their past mistakes and they should learn from historical realities.”  Others, such as Zarif said that Iran would not use force except in defense, a statement falling in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states: “nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Also, Ayatollah Khamenei argued the following at a meeting on the occasion of the birth of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, Hazat Fatemah Zahra:

“If the Islamic establishment seeks technology and negotiations but does not have defensive power, it will have to back down in the face of any petty country that threatens [it]. That they say the future of the world is one of negotiation and not one of missiles…if that is said of ignorance, well it is ignorance, but if it’s said knowingly, it is treason. The Islamic Republic must use all tools. I am not opposed to political dialog, not with everyone of course. I am fine with political dialogue on the level of global issues. These are times of both missiles and negotiations. Negotiations should be carried out in such a way that we do not get cheated. That we negotiate, put things on paper, but sanctions don’t get removed, and trade doesn’t get going is a sign that something is wrong.”

There is no doubt that Iran is under threat by imperialist machinations. After all, as Khamenei said himself, “American presidential candidates are racing in saying bad words against Iran which is their hostility” and, as he argued later, the West is not serious about confronting terrorism. Because of this threat, it is not surprising that despite Saudi efforts to restrict Iran as noted here, for example, an ex-Saudi Price admitting to arming terrorists in the Southeastern part of Iran, that Iran would engage in a foreign policy aiming to stabilize the region. As Zarif noted, with removal of sanctions, the country will try to “restore peace and stability in the region” in part by trying to “quell region tensions” even though some try to thwart this initiative. Rouhani added to this that Iran is concerned about instability in regional states. More than just meetings and such, this policy manifests itself in numerous ways. For one, it includes standing with Syria as a “main chunk in the resistance front against enemies,” in part by sending Iranian commandos to the country on an advisory mission to help Syrian military forces fight foreign-backed militants.

I could also talk about here about the UN apparently censoring press coverage of the meeting of Kerry and Zarif on April 22 at the UN, Khameini reminding people of the history of the Islamic Republic as one of resistance, or the  non-“revolution” engineered by the CIA to overthrow Mohammad Mossadegh. Instead, I’d like to focus on Iran and the drug trade. Recently, the Secretary General of Drugs Control Headquarters, Abolreza Rahmani Fazli, criticized the UN for failing to live up to their promises, saying that “up until now, the UN has failed to live up to its promises to aid Iran in fighting illicit drugs…what we need from the UN is the necessary facilities and equipment to combat drug trafficking, particularly detection dogs…Iran, due to sharing borders with Afghanistan, which the origin of production and transit of drugs, has paid the highest price in counteracting illicit drugs.” From this, some could speculate this means that sanctioning countries may be involved in the drug trade, like the United States for instance. This brings us to the history portion of this section, which focuses on Iran and the drug trade. For this, one must turn to a book I am currently reading, The Strength of the Wolf, by Douglas Valentine, which follows a number of agents, or characters, within the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from the 1940s until the 1960s. Valentine who has written about the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam in a book titled The Phoenix Program, the secret history of the war on drugs, with a specific focus on the DEA, titled The Strength of the Pack, the successor book to The Strength of the Wolf, and more.

Valentine specifically talks about Iran’s place in the drug trade at numerous junctures.  For one, it was clear, from the surveys by FBN agent Garland Williams in 1948 and 1949, and as FBN Commissioner Henry Anslinger knew, that Iran’s most influential families had gained fortunes through the opium trade, intending to keep anti-drug laws weak so their fortunes could continue to grow, with opium shipped to Indochina “through Greek and Armenian brokers,” a trade from which Chinese nationalists were also profiting. [3] More specifically, this trade meant that there were “more than a million addicts” in Iran, but the espionage Establishment cared little, with their goal of keeping the Shah in power rather than pushing Iran to reform its narcotics policies. [4] Interestingly enough, Mohammad Mossadegh, who is well-known for nationalizing Iran’s oil fields in 1951, led a parliamentary coalition, and was hoping to also reform Iran’s narcotic laws, but this was not “the sort of anti-narcotic action that Anslinger appreciated.” [4] Mossadegh also banned opium production in Iran, as he was aware of Iran’s drug addiction problem, but his nationalization of British and American oil firms led to a “bloody coup engineered by the British and CIA,” that was, more specifically, concocted by Kim Roosevelt and the CIA, with Roosevelt working with known CIA asset Faround Nashibi, who was employed as chief of security for Pan American Airlines in Beirut at the time. [5]  In the aftermath of Mossadegh being overthrown in a coup, which the CIA only admitted engaging in a document released in 2013 publicly and Obama tacitly admitted in 2009 (also noted here), the Amerikan and British oil companies “regained their properties in Iran,” Roosevelt became the vice-president of Gulf Oil, and the CIA moved in, launching “penetration operations inside the Soviet Union” from Iran. [6] With this change of government, supporting the Shah was a matter of national security eclipsing the “local issues of drug law enforcement” as the royal families in Iran “never stopped overproducing or selling black-market opium.”

There’s more. For one, the FBN had been receiving reports from at least 1951 that the younger brother of the Shah, Mahmoud Pahlevi was “trafficking in narcotics between Tehran, Paris, New York and Detroit,” with the Pahlevi family having holdings in opium fields, and the first documented report of his involvement in February 1951. [7] FBN agent Jim Ryan was surprised to find out that the Shah’s younger brother was engaged in drug smuggling, but as his supervisor, Charlie Siragusa, told him, Prince Ruspoli, another member of the Iranian royal family, was also an addict, and hinted that Pahlevi may have had a drug habit as well, supplying his “jet-set friends so they could all enjoy the same exclusive kick.” [8] It is also worth noting that the family of Prince Ruspoli, “owned huge opium farms” in Iran and how a Corsican even “asked him to supply raw opium to build a heroin conversion factory in Tehran.” This one of the many FBN cases, with a narco boss, Armen Nercessian, set up in a trap and arrested by FBN agent Paul Knight in a garage. The arrest caused quite a stir, but since, at time, the CIA was engaged in Operation Ajax, a plan to reinstall the Shah and overthrow Mossadegh, the FBN never revealed that “Pahlevi’s address was found on Nercessian,” but later Siragusa told Anslinger that the “surplus opium in Iran” could be part of a broader trend. [9] Many years later, the drug trade was still alive and well in Iran. In 1956, while working with General Alavi Moghaddam, Paul Knight and Charlie Siragusa, both working for the FBN, raided a lab “in Tehran that was producing 100 pounds of heroin a week!” [10] This huge bust was only the beginning, with Knight escorting FBN agent Garland Williams to Tehran, at the personal request of President Eisenhower to “solve” the drug problem in Iran, but this was complicated by the fact that CIA officer Bryon Engle with them, who had a job to “create a narcotics squad in Tehran,” at the same time that him and the “were forming, with the Mossad, Iran’s brutal secret police force, SAVAK.” This was further compromised by the reality that America had been “enmeshed in Iran’s opium business since 1943,” when the Third Millspaugh Mission came to Iran to take over Iran’s economy, but not only gave “oil, air transport, and various other commercial rights to American industrialists” but collected “opium revenues, managed the Pharmaceutical Institute, and directed the Royal opium factory,” which prompted some critics to call this team “drug sellers.”

From this history, it is obvious why Iran would be serious about combating the flow of illicit drugs within its country. Additionally, with the explosion of heroin production after the imperial occupation of Afghanistan began in 2001 by U$-led forces, this is even more of a pressing issue for them. Perhaps Iran is also doing this in an effort to engender more Western cooperation but that is up for debate.

Where we are now: the crossroads

As Iran currently stands, there are roughly two competing forces, which divide the bourgeoisie: the reformists and the religious so-called “hardliners.” The reformists are newer, emerging since the 1990s, at minimum, and are backed by the West, specifically the imperialist monster, or “Great Satan” as some Iranians call it. The religious so-called “hardliners” are those who won in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution, establishing an Islamic Republic, and are much more anti-U$, which manifests itself in even further strengthened nationalism.

A recent tweet brought this to my attention. It was a tweet from the National Iranian-American Council or NIAC, citing a CNN article which declared, citing magical unnamed “experts,” that the election of reformists “will give Rouhani a less hostile environment to push his reforms.” Before I get into analysis of what these “reforms” are, it is important to analyze NIAC. Their sister organization, NIAC Action, the tweet of which I cited, has five goals: supporting the 2015 nuclear deal (and preventing war), strengthening U$-Iran diplomatic relations, lifting sanctions on Iran, promoting “human rights” in Iran, and fighting discrimination against Iranian-Amerikans and Iranians in the U$. Some of these goals may seem laudable, one must recognize that the board of these organization is staffed with a former Congressional policy advisor, a former intern with the neocon think tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), former American Cancer Society vice-president, former intern for Fund for Peace, a research assistant for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) which tries to support Iranian dissidents (a.k.a. the Iranian opposition like the “Green Movement”) and seems to have connections to NED (but supposedly no funding), and much more. [11] From here, it is best to move onto NIAC itself. On its page about its funders, NIAC says that 82% of its funds came from Iranian Americans and that the rest came from foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), the Arca Foundation, and Ploughshares Fund. Then, almost oddly, is the declaration that “NIAC does not receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments” which should make anyone a bit suspicious.

Doing a little digging, one finds out that NIAC openly admitted in a 2003 annual report that it received money from NED, and as noted by SourceWatch, received money in the years of 2005 and 2006 as well. Furthermore, there are two reports, which relate to the 2005-2006 grant. One of these notes that NIAC only came into existence in 2002, and then says that this nonprofit “will use renewed Endowment support to create an interactive website for Iranian civic groups to develop their capacity and improve their access.” If that doesn’t sound like assisting imperial destabilization, I don’t know what is. The other report, a follow-up from the previous one, declares that with NED funding, NIAC continued to develop its website for the civic groups mentioned previously, and also “continued to cultivate relations with Iranian NGOs and intensified its marketing.” I also found in my searching that the personal project of a neocon I mentioned earlier, Timmermann, hated the president of NIAC for apparently opposing U$ regime change in Iran and pushing for diplomacy instead.

This implies that NIAC does not support such regime change anymore and that everything is just happy and dandy. However, let us not forget what types of things the RBF has funded in the past, including anti-BDS NGOs at the present, and funds many liberal groups, especially environmental groups, along with a role, in tandem with other groups, to, in the words of Jay Taber, “subvert democracy and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.” When it comes to NIAC, perhaps it is best to look at their campaigns themselves. One recent “action” item of theirs, about lifting visa waivers for Iranian-Americans, cites the support of 35 “tech entrepreneurs,” which are really just capitalists, for justification. [12] Other posts show that NIAC seems to care about “U.S. foreign policy interests” not being trampled, wants there to be “economic reintegration of Iran into the global economy,” and thinks that Iranian-Americans can “make a change” by voting for Democrats. Other posts showing NIAC praising  social-democrat-imperialist Bernie Sanders, thanking Obama, calling out the “regime” in Iran. If that isn’t enough, NIAC argues that House Republicans opposing the Iran nuclear deal threatens “U.S. national security interests.” [13] What is a bit worrisome is one of the justifications sent to Congress for why the Iran nuclear deal should be approved and I quote directly: “a successful resolution of the nuclear issue will empower Iran’s political moderates in addition to the Iranian people, who can press their leadership for both internal and external moderation.” I could go more into NIAC, but it seems clear that they serve as an organization that supports the Iranian opposition and hence are in line with U$ imperial interests, even if they do not receive direct funding from NED. It is also evident that NIAC is a bourgeois organization, a bourgeois NGO to be precise.

Having covered NIAC, it is vital to return back to the two competing forces in Iran, roughly. The “reforms” proposed by Rouhani are not something that any person, especially those on the “Left,” broadly or narrowly defined, should stand for. According to a few articles I looked at, his reforms include: (1) privatizing the automotive industry; (2) opening up the economy more to the West; (3) engaging in “economic liberalization” which are code words for privatization; and (4) weaken state involvement in the economy. [14] There was an article on a site that is a project of the German Green Party, a social democrat party mind you, which noted that Rouhani’s administration has “hewed to rather conventional austerity measures, curbing inflation and cutting costs,” and saying that if this approach is maintained, along with the slow amount of foreign investment, “the economy is in danger of shrinking rather than growing.” Then there was a rash of articles quoting numerous Iranian high-level ministers who declare that Iran wants to fully join the WTO, a mainstay of the existing capitalist system since 1995. [15] This is not very promising, but neither is the fact that one of the leading members of the “neoconservative advocacy community,” the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sided with Rouhani, declaring that “the elections appear to have given the Rouhani-aligned moderates and reformists a plurality in the new parliament,” praising the harsh cuts to food and fuel subsidies, supporting his “reform agenda,” and that the best option is for “the United States…to do nothing.” This praise is not surprising when, as one Reuters writer declared, after claiming that the idea of a “resistance economy” was bunk, that “Rouhani’s reforms…in many ways resemble policies of a center-right European government.” [16] To me, this is deeply troubling as it implies that Rouhani is doing the “right thing,” in the mind of such imperialists, in that he is doing something that governments of Europe, have done, in an effort to implement austerity, destroying social programs and social services.

The elections this past February proved whether this agenda was “winning” in Iran or not. The Economist declared that this parliamentary election was part of a “backlash” against conservatism. The election results showed that reformists won 66% of the parliamentary seats in the province of Tehran. According to the election results, the Principalists, which is another name for the “hardliners,” seemed to win a majority of the seats, even when I recounted them a second time. However, that was before all of the results were in, which shows that the reformist coalition called “List of Hope” won against “hardline” coalitions like the Principalist Grand Coalition and People’s Voice Coalition. It is also important to note here that Khamenei called for full participation of Iranians in elections and that, as noted by Iranian state media, “more than 60 percent of some 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots at around 53,000 polling stations across the country.” It worth also pointing out that at one point some wanted electronic voting in Iran without a secure system, so it was abandoned, which seems to eliminate one possible avenue of Western manipulation or tampering.

Some may ask what this election means. For one, I’m not sure if these new legislators will heed Khomenei’s message after the election which said that “I shall remind all authorities…[of] preferring national interests over personal or party requests, courageous resistance against foreign intervention, Revolutionary response to plots by the malevolent and traitors,” and so on. Sputnik, a Russian state-funded news outlet posited, around the same time, that “the decline of Islamic clerics…demonstrates that the Islamic revolution in 1979 is a distant memory.” Some Westerners may be cheering at this announcement, but it vital to dig more into what this means. It is clear that Rouhani’s reformist administration is trying to court Western companies like BP (despite its role in the 1953 coup), which recently opened an office in Tehran and a recent “major oil, gas and petrochemical convention” which attracted over “900 international firms…for four days of showing, stalking and cutting deals with 900 domestic companies” including Asian enterprises and European firms such as ABO Value (Czech), Camfil Power Systems AB (Swedish), Carbon Energy Club (Belgian), Sichuan Huagong Petroleum Steel Pipe Co. (Chinese). [17] This obviously will mean that the economy will continue to move from one that is centrally-planned, albeit not entirely; to one that is more of an open market, making the Iranian bourgeoisie perhaps richer and benefiting bourgeoisie of the West. [18]

There is no doubt that Western capitalists must be jumping up and down and so excited about this opportunity to tap into a new market, exploiting more people for their personal gain, of course. But it also means that NED’s efforts have been relatively successful. NED, as must be remembered, is an appendage of the murderous empire. In terms of Iran, they have given awards to leading Iranian political activists such as Ali Afshari and Manouchehr Mohammadi, awarded the Green Movement with the 2010 Democracy Award, as noted here, here, and here, supported “democracy” efforts in Iran. NED also portrayed Iran as an authoritarian monster that was repressive, gave money for an online journal, radio station, organizations, and activists, honored more activists (also see here and here), and much more. At the same token, one could say that NED has not been successful. For a time that was true because the Green Revolution was pushed back in 2010, a movement which obviously was a method to gain control, like the other movements NED has honored, and put in place a Western-friendly government. Of course NED is not the only organization at play here; likely the CIA has secret operations afoot in Iran, along with USAID, and a number of other organizations like BBG and others that spread imperial propaganda.

Looking forward, there is isn’t even a need to talk about the size of Iran’s economy, a silly pseudo-“left” statement on Iran, or how oil prices were supposedly tied to the outcome of Iran’s recent elections. Instead it is best to remember that Khamenei is the one who, along with others, opposes privatization but supposedly supports an “illusion of privatization.” But the deeper reality is that if such privatization which the reformists, and their Western capitalist backers, want is fully implemented, then the “resistance economy” will be utterly destroyed. Such an economy, which existed under UN sanctions, is one that has five-year development plans, has expanded production of “knowledge-based products,” increased production of “strategic goods,” markets in neighboring countries, increased exports of raw materials, and yes, privatization despite Khomenei saying in 2013 that trust in “imposed economic theories of the West and the East” was harmful, a description which was mostly echoed by the Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The Guardian claimed that this type of economy, a term first used in 2010, which includes a “push for self-sufficiency and domestic production…a commitment to the central place in the economy of…bodies like the IRGC,” but is flexible term and depends on what happens in the US.

There are some who oppose Rouhani’s policy of privatization. One such article is by Drake University Professor Ismael Hossein-zadeh on the website of the sometimes good, sometimes wacky, Global Research Centre. In this article, Hossein-zadeh writes that the efforts of Rouhani’s administration, unlike the “opening of China to foreign capital” (another sly reformist defense of China) has been inspired by “the doctrine of economic liberalism/neoliberalism” which is a break from the past when Iran viewed economic sanctions as an opportunity to be self-reliant. He further argues that the “open-door economic policy” of the Rouhani administration undermined these past gains, the industrialization strategy of import-substitution is ignored, and that soon Iran would be experiencing deindustrialization if it does not temper the opening of itself to foreign trade. He also adds that Rouhani and his administration are taking on foreign debt to improve the country, that the approach forward would lead to dependence of Iran, and that Rouhani and his economic advisors are “West-centric in a misplaced, inappropriate and mistake way” that follows the strategies of “mature or advanced capitalism.” He concludes by saying that unless such neoliberal policies are reversed then Iran’s markets will be “flooded with foreign products,” the manufacturing base will be weakened, foreign debt will escalate and national sovereignty compromised.

Where do we go from here?

After reading this article, some readers may have little hope in Iran changing. Some readers may remember that communist parties in Iran are almost non-existent, with the suppression of the Iranian communist party, Tudeh, in the 1980s. Some readers may say that Iran does, in its current form, serve as an anti-imperialist state. While you could say that is true (even though they are really anti-U$), with the Rouhani administration, there have been efforts  to pull Iran closer to the West. Others may even say that with these new developments, maybe there is a possibility for a push in Iran for a more expanded communist presence. To be honest, I’m not very optimistic about the latter possibility. At this current time, I’m fully willing to support those forces that resist Western imperialism in Iran. I’m not sure the bourgeois reformist government in Iran will ultimately be enough.


Notes

[1] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” Also see: an NPR article by Eyder Peralta (April 20, 2016) titled “Supreme Court Rules Frozen Iranian Money Be Turned Over to U.S. Terrorism Victims”; an AP article (April 20, 2016) by Mark Sherman titled “High Court sides with families of ’83 Beirut bombing victims”; a Bloomberg News article by Greg Stohr (April 20, 2015) titled “Iran Terror Victims Win at U.S. Supreme Court, Can Collect $2 billion.”

[2] See a Reuters article by Lawrence Hurley (April 20, 2016) titled “U.S. top court rules Iran bank must pay 1983 bomb victims.” In its defense, the Iranian bank argues that “Congress unlawfully changed the legal rules in a pending case” while Roberts also said in his dissent that after this decision, “with the court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases” as noted in an April 20, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal by Brent Kendall titled “Supreme Court Upholds Terrorism Victims’ Ability to Collect Frozen Iran Funds.” For more on an analysis of Robert’s dissent, from an unabashedly conservative source, of course, see here.

[3] Valentine, Douglas. The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs. London: Verso, 2004. Print. pp. 78-9, 102, 117.

[4] Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf, 105.

[5] Ibid, 105, 170.

[6] Ibid, 170.

[7] Ibid, 117.

[8] Ibid, 118.

[9] Ibid, 119

[10] Ibid, 169.

[11] Other positions held by those on the board include a former “Physical Therapy Assistant,” former organizer for United for Peace and Justice, a graphic designer, and a former reporter.

[12] This is also cited in a post here.

[13] In their ad, NIAC claimed that opposing the deal threatened a “chance for peace.”

[14] See Arthur MacMillian’s March 1, 2016 AFP article titled “After Iran elections, Rouhani aims for economic reform,” Ian Black’s February 29, 2016 article in The Guardian titled “Iran election results put Hassan Rouhani on cautious path to reform,” and Michael Kaplan’s January 25, 2016 article in the International Business Times titled “After Iran Nuclear Deal, Rouhani And Supreme Leader Battle Over Domestic Reforms.”

[15] Valiollah Afkhami Rad, the Deputy Industry Minister, was quoted as saying in January of this year the following: “Iran will soon form a working group to negotiate its way to join the World Trade Organization and a total of 40 countries have expressed willingness to join the group which marks the prerequisite for permanent membership to the WTO…structural reforms in Iran’s economy need to take place and reduction of tariff levels has been put on the agenda.” A post by a person who formally worked at the United States Institute for Peace declared that “Iran is increasingly vocal about its readiness to join the World Trade Organization…Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh…announced that finalizing its WTO membership is “a priority” for Iran…domestic lobbies…are particularly wary of foreign competition. Iran will thus need not just structural changes but also political mobilization.” In a television talk show in December 2015, Iran’s minister of industry, Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, said that “our country can join the World Trade Organization in less than two years,” and noted that Iran has been requesting to be a WTO member since 1995.

[16] See Andew Torchia’s May 1, 2014 article in Reuters titled “Politics, markets complicate Rouhani’s rescue of Iran economy.”

[17] It is worth reading the letter written by President H.E. Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China which says, in part: “…In history, China and Iran made important contribution[s] to opening the Silk Road and promoting exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations…since the inception of our diplomatic ties in 1971, the China-Iran relationship has stood the test of international changes and maintained a momentum of sound and steady development…Our development strategies are highly compatible, which creates huge potential for cooperation…the long distance between Beijing and Tehran is no obstacle to the interaction or cooperation between China and Iran, nor to the friendship and exchanges between out peoples. China is ready to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an even better future for China-Iran relations.”

[18] For proof that Iran is moving in this direction, see a webpage on Economy Watch’s website, this website, this post on the USIP website, this country brief by the World Bank, this book, and much more.


Addendum

As I continue to read about this subject, I have had some interesting responses. One reader, VNGiapaganda, asked me what I thought of the possibility that “Afghan opium is being used to destabilize Iran” and commented that this is “something I’ve been wondering about, because Iran has been having HUGE problems with narcotics from what I’ve gathered.” I think this a definite possibility. UNODC puts it this way about Iran:

“Drug trafficking represents a major challenge for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geographical location of the country, particularly its porous 1,923 km-long Eastern border with Afghanistan – the world’s largest illicit opium producer – and Pakistan, has turned it into a major transit country for illicit drugs. In response to this challenge, the country has built one of the strongest counter-narcotics enforcement capabilities in the region over the years…[in 2014] Iran accounted for 74% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures in 2012…More than 3,700 national law enforcement officials have been killed and over 12,000 have been maimed in counter-narcotics operations over the last three decades…the Islamic Republic of Iran also faces emerging trends of illicit production and trafficking in Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS).”

In addition, as NarcoNon puts it, “Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin,” and that “Ethnic Kurds…are thought to be heavily involved in the movement of drugs across this border.” Let us not forget the imperial monster has allied with Kurds, at least since the 1990s, a “strong, deep partnership” or “close relationship” as a November 13, 2015 New York Times article (by Tim Arango and titled “Sinjar Victory Bolsters Kurds, but Could Further Alienate U.S. From Iraq) put it, which manifests itself in military strikes, for example (see Morgan L. Kaplan’s September 9, 2014 Washington Post article titled “Why the U.S. backed the Kurds). There are probably more articles than this on this relationship, but one could speculate that the U$ government, covertly of course, was working with Kurdish traffickers to destabilize Iran. However, that may seem to be too much of a stretch. Still, as an Iranian state media outlet put it, Iran sees itself, among other countries as the “frontline of the fight against narcotics trafficking” and has fighting to stop “infiltration into the country” by drug smuggling groups.

It is clear that Iran is facing “huge problems with narcotics” as VNGipaganda pointed out. The corporate-backed Middle East Institute claims that NGOs are doing the best work in stopping drugs, but this disregards the huge seizures of drugs like tons upon tons of opium (and other illicit drugs), a drug control organization that is part of the Iranian government, which is all part of their “war on narcotics.” Bourgeois media have declared in the past that “Iran is the main gateway for the region’s top drug exporter, Afghanistan” with more than 2.2 million Iranians who are drug addicts, that punishments for those trafficking illicit drugs often result in execution, and that there have been massive public awareness campaigns about illicit drugs. This media has also declared that drug trafficking soared in 2012 even with Western sanctions ravaging the economy, claiming wildly that even that Iranian forces and Hezbollah were involved (see a Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, on November 1, 2012 titled “In Iran, drug trafficking soars as sanctions take bigger bite”), and another quoting a prominent Iranian official is a member of the Expediency Council, Saeed Sefatian apparently illustrating “legalisation of cannabis and opium use under specific circumstances outlined by ad hoc laws.” Some, like High Times, have used the latter quote to call for “opening up” of democratic dialogue in Iran which inherently means to assist the reformists and therein privatization, while others have said that Iran’s drug policy is just paradoxical. Others argued that Iran, “as one of the world’s primary frontiers in the fight against opiate and illicit drug trade, should be actively encouraged and assisted to take a more prominent role.” You can bet that isn’t happening.

Anyway, onto other issues of note. Ali Akbar Velayati, head of the Strategic Research Center, which is part of Iran’s Expediency Council, told reporters in Tehran that “I have had five meetings with Mr. Putin and I never saw his hesitation in supporting the legitimate government of Syria,” and he asserted that Iran regards “Assad and his government as a “red line”” as the Iranian state media outlet summarized it. Yet again, this shows that Iran is staking out not only an anti-terror position but an anti-U$ one by standing with an arguably Arab nationalist government, regardless of that fact that the latter is secular. Another article I stumbled across said that a “Russian S-300 missile defense system delivered to Iran has been brought to Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base,” further noting that “Moscow and Tehran signed a contract for the delivery of five battalion sets of S-300 PMU1 air defense missile systems in 2007” and that “Iran displayed the first S-300 air defense missile system imported from Russia in April.” This sort of trade probably angers imperial elites as they see Russia as a “threat” despite the fact that it only has 10 military bases worldwide compared to hundreds upon hundreds of bases by the murderous empire. Two other articles I found related to the section of this article on the US Supreme Court case relating to Iran. One of them cited a PressTV video showing the Iranian Parliament speaker condemning the decision. Another quoted Rouhani, the Western-backed reformist, as saying in a speech, following the denouncement by the Non-Aligned Movement, the following:

“The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation be easily gobbled up by the Americans…[Iran will] take this case to the International Court [of Justice] in the near future and will not spare any effort towards the restoration of the nation’s rights through legal, political and banking channels.”

A statement like this could imply that even with reformists in power that Iran may still remain anti-U$. However, one must consider that with more cooperation with Western forces there is no doubt that the reason to be anti-imperialist will be left, with Iran ultimately, if Rouhani’s center-right policies are fully implemented, becoming a dependent state. Hence, an anti-U$ position won’t even be on the agenda.

Finally I write about here a little bit on NIAC and NED. From what I found, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment and one of the pillars of the empire, has a transcript of a 2011 press conference with participants including: the NIAC President, Trita Parsi; Congressperson Keith Ellison; former New York Times correspondent Nazila Fathi; Nader Hashemi, a person who edited a book about the Green Movement; the Swedish Ambassador to the US, Jonas Hafstrom; an international policy analyst for the RAND Corporation, Alireza Nader; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Suzanne Nossel; and a director of Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson. At this press conference, hosted by NIAC, and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ploughshares Fund, participants moaned and groaned about “the human rights situation in Iran,” citing International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) and Amnesty International as sources, along with trying to hold Iran “accountable” for its “human rights violations” maybe even refer them to the International Criminal Court! Other participants claimed that Iran is a “very nationalistic country,” claims that US politicians should publicly support Iranian opposition figures, heap more sanctions in Iran, and many more horrid “observations.” I think it also worthy quoting a bit of what Keith Ellison has to say, as it shows what side he is on. He says, in part the following which sounds like an apology for empire:

“The United States has done a lot of good things in the world. There’s no doubt about that. I’m proud of that. We’re one of the largest donor nations in the world, and I’m proud of that. But it’s also true that our relationship to the Middle East in particular has been somewhat limited to a few factors. Oil, our historic relationship with Israel, and counterterrorism basically have been the three prongs of our relationship with the Middle East…When we’re in a relationship with a government that somehow meets some of our economic and strategic needs, but at the same time they’re human rights violators, it’s easy to take a blind eye and not look in that direction…fundamentally human rights do lend to long‑term overall stability in a nation where people can raise their own voices, can speak their own truth without fear of being carted off and being on the business end of a jail cell, or worse. I believe those societies will be more stable over time…in the 1953, the democratic initiative of Iranian people was undermined and so, for so many years, we followed that policy because it met our own economic and strategic interests. That policy changed radically in 1979, and we’ve been dealing with the aftermath ever since that time…as Americans living in the United States, we can form the basis of a peace constituency that says human rights has got to be the way we interact with the rest of the world…I was happy to see that the “smart” sanctions President Obama signed into law last year contain some of the provisions of the legislation that I introduced…The legislation was basically ‑‑ NIAC was an indispensable resource, as I mentioned already — it’s really our legislation…Gaddafi was able to crack down brutally in part because of the absence of foreign media…the international community needs to remind the Iranian government that we are watching…it’s legitimate for the United States to have interests and legitimate for them to pursue them, but I also think that human rights is an interest of ours too…I believe that there is room for sanctions; I’ve actually introduced sanctions bills myself. But the greater history of sanctions is that it doesn’t do much to change the conduct of the country at whom the sanctions are targeted…our default position should be multilateralism…I think we should have an interest section or an embassy everywhere we can, without regard to whether we like that government or not.”

This suck-up to the murderous empire also reveals that NIAC is completely fine with sanctions on Iran, as long as they are “smart,” implying that other sanctions are “dumb.” Additionally, the fact that he only says that “the democratic initiative of the Iranian people was undermined” in 1953 without saying that there was a US and British bloody coup to overthrow Mossadegh is just disgusting.

As much as I would want to go more through that press conference, I must move on. NIAC pops up in a newsletter for the US Embassy in 2011, making one think it could just be a foreign destabilization operation. Beyond this, some of the results from a search of the State Department’s website makes it seem like they are a pawn of the US government itself. Readers may remember the declaration on NIAC’s website that they do not “receive funding from the U.S. or Iranian governments.” Last night, when I was attempting to look for the NED reports, I had archived before my laptop was stolen, I looked specifically through the reports of 1984-2004, the results of which will be explained later. As it turns out, NIAC received $25,000 from NED in 2002 for implementing a two-day workshop for “forty members from five civic groups” to help them develop their publicity efforts. If you don’t think this is an effort of imperial destabilization than I’ve got to say that you are sadly deluded. Additionally, this proves that NIAC is not really telling the full truth with their disclaimer, a disclaimer which implies that people have criticized them for U.S. government funding in the past and that people have accused them of being pro-Iranian government when they obviously are not. Other tweets, with a thread beginning here, show the following:

  • $316,860 for the Iran Teachers’ Association (1991-4, 2001-3)
  • $105,000 for the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) (2002-4)
  • $55,949 for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) (2004, incorrectly called “the Center for the International Private Enterprise”)
  • $50,000 for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (1995)
  • $40,500 for Vital Voices Global Partnership (2004)
  • No grants for Iranian groups for the years of 1984-1990 and 1996-2000.

Most of the grants for the Iran Teachers’ Association related to distributing their publications, including eventually a journal published by them titled Mehregan. As for the ABF, the descriptions of the grants make it seem that the ABF was given money to create a “human rights” website for “victims” of the “Iranian regime,” code for Iranian opposition activists. CIPE tried to “inject the voice of business” into Iranian society, which is not surprising considering one of its goals is to “help improve the functioning of market economies and build democratic societies” with “partners” to advance their capitalist policies across the world. Like the other organizations, the Vital Voices Global Partnership pushed to help Iranian opposition activists, specifically Iranian women. As for The Foundation for Democracy in Iran, the grant money should be obvious: it tried to monitor “human rights violations” in Iran.

While words from such organizations may seem nice on the surface, it is important to remember that these organizations are part of a broader push for imperial destabilization of Iran. There is no doubt about that. If one adds up the money from the organizations listed above, it is clear that between the years of 1991-1995 and 2002-2004, $568,309 was given to NED grantees in an effort to destabilize Iran. Some may laugh and say this a paltry sum, but lest us forget that there are still reports from 2005 on which are not noted here and that making this reality clear is still significant. Again, I welcome your comments and look forward to future interactions.

A history of revolutionary Cuba

A 1984 map, included at the end of a document on Castro’s “propaganda apparatus” as the CIA called it.This map not only made me laugh at its absurdity, but, even though the copy of the map isn’t that great, it shows the “danger” the CIA saw with communist Cuba.

This was originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Apr. 24, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Since I am anti-revisionist now and was not when this article was written, there was a necessity to revise it. This topic will hopefully be revisited again and soon.

This article is the second in this series, following the first one about an imagined scenario in Cuba, which focuses on the nation of Cuba and the accomplishments of its government. This writer could easily fall in line, praising the “normalization” between U$ and Cuba, as proliferated in liberal discourse, and accept the supposedly “authoritarian” nature of the Cuban government, which has been paraded around in the bourgeois media since 1959. Instead, this article will refute this characterization of the Cuban government and focus on Cuba’s role in liberation struggle, along with its general history in fighting off imperial destabilization efforts. It is important to understand the history of Cuba in order to assert its place in the overall revolutionary struggle, historically and currently. This is also vital not only as a way to challenge established bourgeois conceptions of Cuba and the Cold War, while pushing back against those who claim Cuba is “authoritarian” instead of being what they define as a “democracy.”

I could start with the victorious Cuban Revolution but it is important to first set the stage. The trade of enslaved Africans continued until the late 19th century, shipped by the colonial Portuguese and the Spanish, the latter who controlled the island until 1898. [1] This has meant that as a result, many people in Cuba are descendants of enslaved Africans. Despite the fact that revolts had sprung up in the past, including during the Ten Years War, a struggle led by wealthy Cuban planters, in the late 1890s, Cuba became a “hotbed of rebellion” with poor Black peasants joining wealthy native Whites “to liberate the Caribbean island from the grip of four centuries of Spanish occupation.” While the white planters feared a takeover from Blacks, who saw a free Cuba as a path to equality, they still kept in place an alliance, allowing for revolutionary delegates to met in September 1895 to create a new Cuban Republic, with a White aristocrat as President and a Black Cubans as General-in-Chief and Second in Command of the Army. [2] As the 1890s wore on, public support for Cuba Libre, or free Cuba was growing in the U$. The two major capitalist political parties (Democrats and Republicans) declared their support but the U$ President, Grover Cleveland, refused to aid Cuban rebels, at a time when the U$ bourgeoisie, which had $50 billion in agricultural investments in Cuba, “feared a truly independent Cuba,” since Cuban revolutionaries at the time “were calling for social reforms and land redistribution.” [5] As such, Cleveland was no anti-imperialist but  was only acting on behalf of a sector of the U$ bourgeoisie.

Certain newspapers stirred up support for the war, while others disagreed. The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor was the spark for more advocacy in favor of a war against Spain. [3] Still, the Monthly Journal of the International Association of Machinists supported Cuban rebels and agreed that the Maine explosion was a terrible disaster but argued, rightly so, that “worker deaths in industrial accidents were met with national indifference.” Papers like the New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer also had a role in pro-war sentiments. Such a tabloid paper would have sold for a penny, possibly bought by an immigrant, with the yellow journalism within the paper “designed to shock and titillate readers.” Yellow papers, like the Pulitzer’s World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal were engaged in a fierce contest to “cover” the Cuban government but were fed information by the Cuban Junta, which was “composed of sympathizers and exiles of the Cuban rebellion,” a bit like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Both papers were trying to appeal to a mass audience, mainly by immigrants who were learning English like Italians, Germans, and Russians, and gaining a profit of course, with circulation sometimes topping a million copies a day. [4]

The U$ had defeated the dilapidated Spanish empire in a war billed as “anti-imperialist” to “free” Cuba. By the end of the war, the U$ had conquered Cuba and the Philippines, and gained the island of Guam, as a result of the Treaty of Paris and the negotiations with Spain. The U$ arguably had an overland empire, built on the genocidal conquest of the indigenous peoples and slavery of course, along the work of other oppressed workers of color, within what would become “America.” This changed after 1898 when the U$ truly had an overseas empire, which also expanded by annexing Hawaii with a joint resolution of Congress, which some have argued is a form of prolonged occupation by the U$. Coming back to Cuba, the U$ became the new occupiers, refusing to let the Cubans “participate in the terms of Spain’s surrender” and they kept the structure in place with Spanish civil authorities still left in “charge of municipal offices.” [5] Ultimately, a new constitution was implemented in Cuba, likely coerced through illegal force, which made the island a protectorate and the Platt Amendment in 1901 which forced Cuba to provide the U$ land for a base at Guantanamo Bay and “allowed the U.S. to intervene at any time.” This development was described by the writing of one imperialist, Leonard Wood, then-Military Governor of Cuba to another, Theodore Roosevelt, with Wood declaring that “there is, of course, little or no independence left in Cuba under the Platt Amendment.”

In following years, a client government was implemented in Cuba in 1901, racial segregation was imposed, and the county was eventually burdened with the Batista dictatorship and its “mafia-capitalist class.” [5] This meant that Cuba was not a “fully sovereign space” due to imperial meddling by the U$, which led to a conception of Cuba, in the U$ perspective, of being passive in the face of their actions and “protected by its protector.” Cuba was under U$ subservience with the client and puppet dictatorship of Batista leading to “misery in the countryside and urban slums” combined with what one scholar calls “a millionaire’s playground of casinos and brothels for US tourists and organized crime.” In part of an interview in The Black Panther, the newspaper of the Black Panther Party, an unnamed revolutionary says that before the Cuban Revolution, “Cuba was very corrupt” with a lot of robbery, gambling, and “ownership of large estates of land by a small absentee oligarchy or foreign corporations” or latifundism as he called it. [6] He also argued that peasants were exploited by latifundists, who didn’t work, who had others cultivate the land for them.

In the 1950s, a groundshaking change would send shockwaves of revolution across the Caribbean and make the murderous imperialists shake in their boots in fear. In 1957, Herbert Matthews of the New York Times interviewed Fidel Castro, making the revolutionary movement in Cuba known “to the rest of the world.” [8] The CIA, in a sneering fashion, claimed that Fidel had an “instinct for the value of international propaganda,” claiming that Matthews, in three articles, “gave an almost heroic impression of the Cuban revolutionary,” along with agreements with CBS, and noted that nightly shortwave radio broadcasts opened what they called “the second phase of Castro’s propaganda war against Batista.” An upheaval caused by Batista’s dictatorial rule led to a guerrilla war begun in 1956 by a group of small group of men, including Fidel and Che Guevara. When this group of men, numbering over 80, tried to invade Cuba from Mexico, they were reduced by brutal assaults by Batista’s soldiers to fewer than 20, with the survivors fleeing into the Sierra Maesta mountains. [9] Only two years later, in part because of the ferocity and intransigence of Batista, which “fueled peasant support for the guerrillas” and a number of other factors, numerous “political parties, landowners, and businesses” had joined in the struggle, with the guerrilla force growing into a rebel army. Not long after, Fidel launched a nationwide offensive with Che’s forces splitting the country in two and Batista fleeing to the Dominican Republic, in early 1959, allowing the revolutionary forces to sweep into Havana. This overthrow not only “accentuated the tendency towards radicalization” and freed the country from foreign imperial occupation by the U$. [10] At the same time, this revolution, had a huge impact on thinking in the Latin American Left with many convinced that the revolutions in underdeveloped countries could be triggered by a small nuclei of guerrillas, leading to a “wave of unsuccessful attempts to repeat the Cuban experience across Latin America.” As a Black Panther in prison, Romane Fitzgerald, put it, the “theory and practice of protracted warfare based upon guerrilla attacks” was not only a way to defeat capitalism and imperialism but a way of seizing political power, a method, in his view, which was carried through in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Algeria. [11]

In the 1960s, in its wean years of existence, the Cuban government came under intensified imperialist assault by the United States. As Fidel Castro said in a 1961 interview, the revolution was a socialist one, and that imperialism can “choose between suicide and natural death. If it attacks, it means suicide, a fast and certain death. If it does not attack, it can hope to last a little longer.” In the interview, Fidel also said that they destroyed “a tyrannical system…the philoimperialist bourgeois state apparatus…there is no longer anything good we can expect from the national bourgeoisie as a class…the socialist camp [refers to the Soviets and Czechs, but not the Chinese]…are our friends.” For the imperial U$, it placed an importance first on stopping “another Cuba” in the hemisphere, and on “another Nicaragua” in later years, by trying to pre-empt further revolutions with the launch of the anti-communist Alliance for Progress under which the US “gave money and advice for agrarian reform programmes in countries such as Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela.” [12] Not only did the future seem to have a revolutionary tone after the Cuban revolution, but the Soviet Union championed itself as “Cuba’s protector,” bringing it closer to the revisionist Soviets who were later described as social imperialists.

While the murderous U$ empire tried to determine the nature of Castro’s disruption and what it meant, the Kennedy administration intensified its measures to squeeze Cuba to death. One of these was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the “foreign policy blunder” that led to U$ credibility and hegemony actively doubted in the aftermath of this imperialist effort by an army of Cuban exiles. While Adlai Stevenson, U$ ambassador to the UN, laughably denied U$ involvement in this armed invasion of Cuba, it was clear that this CIA operation was a U$ effort to overthrow the Cuban government. This backfire was even predicted by senior Pentagon officers in 1961, who had planned to use air power to “win the day,” but that didn’t happen and the whole operation ended up being a fiasco. This is invasion is relevant considering that Cuba recently celebrated 55 years since its historic victory at the Bay of Pigs, by forces led personally by Fidel Castro, within 72 hours, against what the Cuban government rightly described as “the infamous U.S. organized and financed mercenary invasion” and as “the first major defeat of U.S. imperialism in the Americans.” This anniversary happens to coincide with the session of the 7th Cuban Communist Party Congress, which recently finished its session.

Despite the Cuban victory in the Bay of Pigs, the imperial monster charged forward. In 1962 there was the Cuban missile crisis, which some, even those sympathetic to covering imperialism honestly, call Kennedy’s “greatest foreign-policy success.” [13] The problem with this viewpoint is it implies that Kennedy was completely rational. Additionally, it falls in line with Kennedy’s lies in his speech about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, in which he declared laughably that the United States was patient, restrained a “peaceful and powerful nation” that acted in self-defense and “of the entire Western Hemisphere” that implemented a “strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment” shipped to Cuba, “close surveillance of Cuba and its military buildup” and reinforced the illegal Guantanamo military base. [13] While some could claim this is rational, it is not. Kennedy brought the world the closest it has been to “global holocaust,” and holding the world hostage for over two weeks after which Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, which the Cuban government was angry about, including Fidel. This irrationality is obvious in the fact that Amerikan leaders, namely Kennedy and his advisers, “were prepared to place millions of American lives at risk” so they could maneuver against the Soviet Union. [14] At the same time, in a 1962 presentation almost echoing Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council before the Iraq war in 2003, with pictures of the missiles held by a US delegation, Adlai Stevenson declared that there were Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba, that the Soviets were at fault and  covered stuff up, but that the United States isn’t, but he clearly left out that “the United States had placed nuclear missiles in Turkey that were pointed at the Soviet Union.” Even a CIA document admitted in 1962 that not only would Cuban armed forces be capable of resisting and repelling any invasion either by U$-trained guerrillas or by U$ military forces, but the “provision of military equipment and instructions,” implying nuclear weapons, was “essentially defensive.” [15] At a meeting of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB) in September 19, 1962 they also declared that the main purpose of the military build-up in Cuba was to “strengthen the Communist regime…against…a danger that the U.S. may attempt by one means or another to overthrow it.”

The Bay of Pigs was only one of the many imperial destabilization efforts aimed at Cuba. CIA was already visibly annoyed that Cuba’s press, which it described as “Castro-controlled,” argued that U$ policies toward Cuba were aggressive and used the U-2 incident to bolster these arguments, along with “Khrushchev’s diatribes.” [16] Before getting to more U$ destabilization efforts it is important to recognize the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) as an imperialist weapon. A 1985 CIA document declares the following: “since 1959, the OAS has sanctioned Castro Cuba a number of times for its export of subversion, which the OAS has considered a form of armed aggression.” [17] The document then goes on to list a number of anti-Cuba actions by the OAS such as forcing “invading” Cubans in Panama to surrender in 1959; condemning supposed “Cuban subversion” in 1961; excluding the Cuban government from OAS participation in 1962; authorizing measures, including use of force, aimed at Cuba in 1962; voting for sanctions against Cuba 1963-4; and condemning Cuba and extending sanctions in 1967. For the 1964 sanctions, the OAS imposed “mandatory sanctions,” with them only expelled from the OAS two years earlier and Joao Goulart overthrown by a U$-backed coup in Brazil earlier that year; at the same time, Cuba’s “sense of isolation and vulnerability” deepened in the years of 1963 and 1964 with defeats of guerrilla movements in Venezuela, Peru and Argentina along with Salvador Allende losing the 1964 presidential elections. [18] Rightly so, the Cuban government doesn’t wish to be a member of the OAS, with Fidel Castro calling it the “Ministry of Colonies” in 1972. Not only did the OAS participate in antidemocratic actions since Cuba was excluded from participation but its decisions were imposed unilaterally, showing that it really was an extension of the murderous empire.

The U$ imperial efforts went beyond the efforts of OAS exclusion and sanctions. Most famously, there was the imposition of a blockade. Even the U$ intelligence community admitted that a blockade itself would not “bring down the Castro regime” and discussed how the Soviets, would in their conception, “exert strong pressures elsewhere to end the blockade,” and that an invasion by the U.S. would lead to “retaliatory actions outside Cuba” by the Soviets, but that they would not provoke conflict. As a Cuban site about the blockade notes, the measures adopted by the new post-1959 Cuban government to recover Cuban wealth “constituted a mortal blow to the biggest North American monopolies which has plundered Cuban resources” for more than fifty years and dominated the country. The site also said that the response of the United States was “fast and abrasive” with sanctions piled on top of sanctions, resulting in an economic war imposed in Cuba for more than four decades. The same site also said that the blockade, under international law, is an “act of war,” imposed under section 620A of the Foreign Act of 1961 by Kennedy, constituting a “group of coercive measures and economic aggression” and is more adequately defined as a blockade than an embargo since it hinders “Cuba’s development of economic, commercial and financial relations with third countries.”

The Kennedy administration led the destabilization efforts against Cuba. Kennedy implemented the “infamous quarantine” against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, opposed President Joao Goulart of Brazil because of his “independent stand in foreign policy,” and feared that Trujillo in Dominican Republic, “a dictator and authoritarian who instituted a reign of terror,” would follow the model of Cuba. Furthermore there was Operation Mongoose, which included operations such as the CIA blowing up a factory in Cuba which killed about 400 people, or the Cuban Project which was one of the biggest terrorist operations as some describe it, with a goal to help Cubans “overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba and institute a new government.” In a manner that almost seems like a conspiracy theory some detractors would say would be peddled on some right-wing blog, was part of Cuban Project called Operation Northwoods, which included staging assassinations of Cubans within the U$, creating a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign” in certain parts of the U$, have a real or simulated sinking of a “boatload of Cuban refugees,” faking a Cuban attack on a civilian jetliner, and blowing up a U$ ship within Cuban waters. Then these would be blamed on the Cubans, like how the explosion of the USS Maine was blamed on the Spanish and then used to start the war in 1898, and start a war with Cuba.

What has been explained about the criminal actions of Operation Mongoose is only part of the story. This Kennedy-authorized operation, began in November 1961 (it started in 1961 despite a typo in the Church Committee report saying 1962) and supposedly ended in October 1962, but seems to have gone on beyond this point, with some arguing it went into the 1980s. It is important to note that not only did Bobby Kennedy play a major role in the six-phase operation, but advocated for the Cuban blockade. So, don’t try to peddle some Kennedy myths here. As the Church Committee documents, the US government thought they could actually overthrow Castro, which was a “top priority,” through the methods of coordinating with angry Cuban exiles and engaging in acts of sabotage. [19] The operation, as other documents show, not only was trying to cause an “internal revolt” against Castro and cause chaos in Cuba, with “sabotage operations” supposedly ended in 1962. This end seems too tidy considering anti-Castro terrorist activity in 1963, Cuban dissident groups encouraged covertly by the CIA, and escalating covert operations that same year, along with much more. After all, the Joint Chiefs of Staff planned destabilization in Cuba until 1963 (at least), there were at least eight plots, in the years between 1960 and 1965, to assassinate Fidel Castro. [20] If this isn’t enough, not only was there arguably a covert war between 1959 and 1965 against Cuba as Don Bohning argues in his book, The Castro Obsession, but there was many attempts on the lives of Raul and Fidel Castro in the 1960s. There were also contaminants put in Cuban sugar and even a Canadian technician paid to infect turkeys with a disease that would kill them, which ultimately killed 8,000 turkeys in Cuba. Later, the US Information Agency (USIA), which became the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), implemented a plan of transmitting television to Cuba in 1990 in an action which came from, Operation Mongoose. [21] Eventually, in 2002, former US government officials, Arthur Schlesinger and Robert McNamara, admitted in a Havana conference that Operation Mongoose was the precursor to the Cuban missile crisis.

As a result of this illegal meddling of a terroristic nature, it is not surprising that the Cubans thought that Operation Mongoose was a forerunner to invasion by the U$, which is why they requested Soviet missiles in Cuba, leading to the Cuban missile crisis. [22] While Lyndon B. Johnson only sought to “inflict pain” on Cuba, while other high-ranking officials wanted invasion, it was reasonable for Cuba to fear the worst. The Cubans were haunted by the “threat of a U.S. military attack on Cuba…throughout the 1960s” and the Soviets were not always receptive to help, even opposing Cuba’s “support for guerrilla movements in Latin America.” Even the departure of Nikita Khrushchev because of his agreement to take missiles out of Cuba, which he placed there because he believed that US invasion was imminent, this did not assuage the doubts of Cuban leaders about “Soviet steadfastness in the defense of Cuba,” leading to a strained relationship with the Soviet revisionists. While the Cubans were on military alert often, including thinking they could be struck by military strikes like those in North Vietnam in early 1965, or on alert when U$ troops invaded the Dominican Republic in April 1965. At the same time, the Cubans, for example gave radical black groups moral support but didn’t give them weaponry, trying to not engage in actions which would bring them into conflict with the U$ on U$ soil, instead preparing their defenses and “countering the U.S. challenge in the Third World.” [23] In 1968, when talking with officials of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), often called East Germany in the West, Fidel Castro told them that while they had a “guarantee against imperialist aggression” with Soviet military divisions to defend them, that Cuba has “no guarantee against imperialist aggression” and that while the Soviets have given them weapons, which they were thankful for, “if the imperialists attack Cuba, we can count only on ourselves.” [24] This betrayal of Cuba by the social imperialist Soviets should be remembered when one recounts Soviet history.

Before I get to Cuban support for the liberation struggle abroad, I think it is important to note some of the events inside Cuba. What I am talking about is first and foremost is how the Cuban Revolution “marked a watershed for the continent’s film makers,” with Havana becoming the center of a new line of cinema which was “dedicated to portraying Latin America’s conflicts, especially with the US,” with a brand “of social-realist cinema and documentary,” which peaked in the 1960s to the 1980s. [25] While Havana soon became the “host of an annual Latin American Film Festival” and then invited “film-makers from every corner of the Third World to come and study at its international film school,” by the 1980s and years following, Cuba faced an economic slump, possibly because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and now “remains cash-strapped and now produces few films.” Before Assata Shakur would make her home in Cuba as a revolutionary and political refugee, there was black nationalist Robert F. Williams and his family. In order to flee the fabricated charges of kidnapping put on Robert, the Williams family fled one person at a time to the island of Cuba and Fidel Castro let the Williams family to have their own radio show which was called Radio Free Dixie, broadcasting three times a week. This show argued that it was the “voice of armed self-defense,” featured Robert doing his own editorials while Mabel Williams, his wife, read news items and helped select the music. [26] This choice of Cuba was not a surprise since Robert was “one of the founders of the national Fair Play for Cuba Committee” and the Cuban people, in his view, “were very sympathetic to the oppressed Afro-American people of the United States” and had “divorced themselves from the fellowship of capitalist oppression, from the fellowship of racist nations” so he decided to go to Cuba. Mabel, his wife, noted that originally Cuba, before it declared itself a communist nation, invited Black scholars “to come because they had made a lot of changes with the race issue” and that Robert began to travel for the Fair Play for Cuban Committee “all over the country,” trying to get the US government “to recognize the Cuban government’s legitimacy to exist and to have friendly relations with Cuba.” Due to the Sino-Soviet split, with China and Cuba “vying to support the Cuban revolution” and some Communist Party USA members not liking Williams because he was talking about race, instead of class, the Williams family left Cuba and went to China instead (this may have also influenced them).

During the 1960s, the Cuban revolutionary government not only defended itself from imperial assault and drastically changed the nature of the island, but they supported anti-imperialist liberation struggles, especially in Africa. The well-regarded foreign policy scholar, Piero Gleijeses, writes about this in his book, titled Conflicting Missions. He notes that in September 1964, FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front), the movement that aimed to free Mozambique from Portuguese colonial domination, launched its guerrilla war from bases in Southern Tanzania, with the country of Tanzania becoming the rear guard for this anti-colonial force and “the major conduit of Soviet and Chinese weapons for them.” [27] Around this time, Cuban interest in the region and in African liberation was growing, with Che Guevara urging that guerrillas in Africa should fight, be assisted by Cuban instructors who would fight alongside them, and have a centralized teaching center in Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo with a goal to free that country from foreign domination. The Cubans saw the Simbas in Zaire and FRELIMO in Mozambique as the “most important liberation movements,” but Che’s plan of freeing Zaire was rejected by FRELIMO which wanted to continue its armed struggle in Mozambique. Still, Cuba agreed to train FRELIMO guerrillas on their island and even sent a ship called the Uvero from Cuba in April 1965 carrying weapons, food, and uniforms for the movement.

Despite the strained relations between Che and FRELIMO, in 1965, he met with Zairean rebels in Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam, was impressed by Laurent Kabila, and later led the training of Zairean rebels in person, along with Cuban instructors. [28] Kabila was the rebel who overthrew the U$-backed Mobutu government in 1997 and renamed Zaire the Democratic Republic of Congo, although by that time a Congolese bourgeoisie had development, so he was not as radical as in the past. While there were issues with the timing of the decision to send a column of Cuban instructors to Zaire to train the Simbas, and later MPLA leaders as Che urged them to go to Zaire to be trained by Cuban instructors, a decision likely made by three people: Che, Fidel Castro, and Raul Castro. This effort was not only actively assisted by the presidents of Tanzania (Julius Nyerere) and Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser), with agreements with both countries by Cuba, but the Cubans made the decision to train African liberation independently of the Chinese or the Soviets, only asking for “Nyerere’s approval before going to Zaire.” This effort was chosen not only to because of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in 1961, with chaos that followed, but that there was “revolutionary fervent in Zaire” with that country becoming the “center from which revolution would spread to the neighboring countries,” especially Portuguese colonies, which is why the Cubans eagerly supported the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and FRELIMO. One example of this eagerness was the supplies sent on the ship Uvero for rebels in Guinea-Bissau, FRELIMO, and Venezuelan guerrillas, with a group of nine Cuban military instructors led by Ulises Estrada, emptying 315 crates of supplies and arms for rebels in present-day Guinea-Bisseau to fight its liberation struggle. This Cuban ship stopped at an Algerian port but the leader and President of independent Algeria (1963-5), Muhammad/Ahmed Ben Bella who had “aligned himself closely with Russia and with its communist allies, especially Cuba,” had been overthrown, so the supplies were kept on board, and the ship proceeded to Tanzania.

I could go on and explain the spats between Che, other Cuban leaders and the Cubans. All I will say is that Gleijeses argues that the Soviets branded Che as “pro-Chinese” for his justified wariness of Moscow’s foreign policy and criticism of the Soviet Union that he saw; Raul had a pro-Soviet view while Fidel was less of a harsh critic of the Soviets than Che, but distanced himself from the Chinese and declared at one point that Cuba should not be a Soviet (or Chinese) satellite and should be an independent socialist nation. [29] He also notes that while some Cuban leaders disagreed with Che, including his emphasis on armed struggle, some, such as Fidel, agreed in principle, but engaged in criticisms of the Soviets, in his speeches, that were indirect. Gleijeses notes how others weren’t fond of Che either, with the Venezuelan Communist Party rejecting his effort to join the Venezuelan guerrillas, saying it was a Venezuelan issue. Still, there were positives. For one, Che was not only one of Cuba’s “foremost leaders” but he served as Castro’s personal emissary, who had “wide powers to offer aid to the liberation movements and make agreements with African governments.” [30] This didn’t stop Che from resigning, in a letter that showed his affection for Fidel, which “freed Cuba formally from responsibility for his actions in Zaire” and the Cuban column of trainings growing to 120, even as FRELIMO didn’t accept them as trainers in 1967.

These efforts of training liberation fighters was only part of a broader strategy. Cubans not only trained those from the anti-colonial forces of the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde), FRELIMO, and MPLA, establishing ties as early as 1961, but these organizations had sent men to Cuba and at least fifteen Cuban doctors were working in the territory the MPLA had liberated. [31] In the 1960s, the Cubans paid much attention to the PAIGC, an organization which controlled 40% of Portuguese Guinea by 1965, and at the same time, the Cubans considered the MPLA “the sole leader of the struggle in Angola.” Aid to these liberation forces was simply extralegal assistance such as aid, financial assistance, and political assistance in international bodies, but it did not “entail committing any Cuban institution to the liberation struggle in Africa.” As noted earlier, FRELIMO turned down an offer of Cuban aid, but this was because they had confidence in their own ability and relied on their own resources, but still, by independence, “Mozambique and Cuba revived their relationship.” [32] As the war with FRELIMO heated up, Portugal deployed 142,000 troops to “quell” the anti-colonial liberation fight in Mozambique, the Cubans became more involved in Angola, which changed their strategy from supporting a guerrilla movement to supporting a government “confronting a foreign invasion,” which did not export revolution but was “massive assistance to a constituted government” similar to the aid given to Algeria or Guinea.

Before moving onto Cuban aid to liberation struggles in the “Third World” it is important to highlight once again, imperial destabilization efforts by the U$, directed at Cuba, in the 1970s. In June 1972 The Black Panther reported that two Cuban films, titled “For the First Times” and “Memories of Underdevelopment” which were part of a group of 25 Cuban films, features, and short subjects, which were to be shown at a Cuban film festival earlier that year was interrupted when the Treasury Department confiscated the films, threatened to prosecuted and engaged in “financial harassment to close the festival down.” [33] The article continued by noting that American Documentary Films, the sponsors of the festival, sued the Treasury and the State Departments, saying that their action was arbitrary and unconstitutional, the latter by violating the 1st and 14th amendments. The article then went into the history of laws such as the Trading with the Enemy Act, “designed as an economic boycott” against the Cuban government, how the closing of the festival resulted in a loss of $28 million dollars by American Documentary Films, which distributed “films on social and political problems,” and that the screening of the films in the first place was meant to protest the “merits of the blockade against Cuba.” Around the same time, Huey Newton sent a message to Fidel Castro, congratulating him for his heroism at the disastrous battle of Cuartel Moncada which brought out the “revolutionary fervor of the Cuban people to struggle and win,” and connected it to the struggle of the “oppressed black masses, the Chicano, Latino, Indian, and poor oppressed people in North America, in the United States.” [34] Newton continued by noting that the Black Panther Party’s “strength is of course within the people,” that “U.S. Reactionary Imperialism can be defeated” with a “World Humane Peace” and at that some point there will be a “people’s victory of world wide Revolutionary Intercommunalism.”

In the 1970s, there were also numerous efforts to engage in biological warfare aimed at Cuba. This included weather modification used against Cuban crops from 1969 to 1970, the CIA, in 1971, giving Cuban exiles a virus that “causes African swine fever,” which led to the slaughter of 500,000 pigs in order to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic. [35] While the full extent of the “chemical and biological warfare against Cuba” by the murderous empire may never be known, the Cuban government has rightly blamed “the United States for a number of other plagues which affected various animals and crops.” I say this because, for example, in 1977, CIA documents showed that the agency “maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries throughout the world” which would undoubtedly include Cuba.

In 1976 there was a democratic development in Cuba. This was the adoption of the Cuban Constitution, approved in a popular referendum in which 97.7% of those who voted, which was almost 96% of all registered voters, favored the Constitution in a secret-ballot vote. [36] This new constitution tried to not only rationalize the existing government but to set ideals more in stone. It recognized the role of mass organizations in Cuban society, a society which had effective mass participation. [37] In later years, it would be amended to create a less restrictive foreign investment structure (in 1992), a time which could be said to mark the beginning of Cuban revisionism, amended to declare Cuba as a secular rather than an atheist state (in 1992) which opened the door to more religious observance, and reaffirming, after sustained challenges to state policies, that socialism in Cuba was “irrevocable” (in 2002). [38] In total, it has been amended three times (1978, 1992, and 2002) since its adoption in 1976. The most recent version the Cuban Constitution, which can be read here and here, outlines the revolutionary history of Cuba briefly in the preamble, recognizes the socialist foundations of the country. The Constitution declares that: Cuba as “a socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign” (Article 1); popular sovereignty relies with the people (Article 3); that citizenry have the right to use all means, including armed struggle, against “anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution” (Article 3); the Communist Party of Cuba is “the superior leading force of the society and the State” (Article 5); “the State recognizes, respects, and guarantees religious freedom” (Article 8); Cuba “repudiates and considers illegal and void any treaties, pacts or concessions” entered under illegal conditions (Article 11); and Cuba adopting “anti-imperialist and internationalist principles” (Article 12). The Constitution also declares the following: the economy will be based on “socialist ownership of the means of production by all the people” (Article 14); people are allowed to own “income and savings derived from the person’s own work, of the housing that is possessed with a fair ownership title, and of other assets and objects that serve to satisfy the material and cultural needs of the person” (Article 21); “the State protects the environment and natural resources of the country” (Article 27), and so on.

With all of this established, it is important to go back to Cuban support for “struggles for national liberation” as their Constitution states, during the 1970s. While Cuba’s role in the late 1960s and early 1970s was arguably honest, with some Africans, “notably Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Eritreans, and a handful of South Africans and Namibians,” receiving military training in Cuba, but the only country that had a “significant Cuban military presence…was…Guinea-Bissau.” [39] While the Cuban government wanted to do more to help FRELIMO, which has been fighting in an armed struggle against the brutal Portuguese colonizers since 1964, there were bad feelings between FRELIMO and the Cuban government after 1965 and when Cuba offered to send instructors to FRELIMO camps in Tanzania or to Mozambique in 1967, FRELIMO declined the offer. Likely, the Cubans believed, and most likely still believe, as the Black Panther Party once stated, that “the United States Empire is the chief perpetrator of exploitation, brutality, and genocide against the people of the world” and that “a blow to the Empire in any part of the world is a victory for the people in any part of the world” but they were unable to fully do this to tensions with FRELIMO. Despite this, it is worthy to note the efforts of FRELIMO in their liberation struggle as noted in numerous articles of The Black Panther. These articles note that FRELIMO implemented survival programs for areas it liberated such as food for people in those areas, “hospitals and clinics…set up to maintain sanitation and health services for the people,” with “over 100,000 people were vaccinated against smallpox,” and “people’s shops and stores have been set up” along with free schooling, and “countless community meetings throughout the liberated countrysides” coupled with “open discussions and political education classes.” [40] Other articles gave more specifics. One of these articles notes that FRELIMO soldiers were armed with all sorts of weaponry, but had to carry all the “necessary materials, along with extra ammunition and the like” with them and that there is no place for male chauvinism, with “the FRELIMO sisters…given no special privileges, and they meet the challenge well.” [41] Additionally, the bases of FRELIMO were simple and temporary, concealed and able to be evacuated in five minutes, with these liberation fighters recognizing who were their enemies (ex: Portugal and the U$) and who were their allies (ex: pro-FRELIMO forces in the U$).  These serious and committed fighters who were “determined to get freedom by any means necessary…in spite of daily bombings and torture by the Portuguese” and a worldwide propaganda machine, in favor of the Portuguese, and locals were drawn in to support FRELIMO because they felt they finally had a chance to participate in a building a better future. [42] Despite facing roadblocks, with some Mozambicans sticking to their traditionalism, these freedom fighters still sought a society which eliminated “man’s oppression of man (and woman),” ultimately “total equality of women” and conducting an “all encompassing struggle.” This struggle was against immense odds as the Portuguese used “helicopters, bombers and troops” to pin down freedom fighters and ultimately kill them, but the FRELIMO bases were hard to spot from the air, which disrupted this destructive cycle. Even though the Portuguese tried to make it “appear as if the guerrillas are scoring no successes” and many troops “received training in anti-guerrilla warfare from U.S. Army personnel,” the Portuguese empire was, as the writer described it, “a shredded paper kitten on its last legs,” with decolonization pushed after the “Carnation Revolution,” with one of the members who participated in this revolution lamenting what Portugal has now become due to market policies in recent years.

After Mozambique received independence, it was immediately under attack. FRELIMO, which had received aid from the Soviets, Cubans, and East Germans was attacked by a military group, backed by South Africa’s apartheid government, called RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance), “which feared a socialist blockade of its borders.” [43] As a result, FRELIMO sent students and teachers to Cuba in 1977 due to the lack of schools in Mozambique at the time, so they could come back and lead the country in the future. Despite this, the new government of Mozambique still introduced free medical treatment in 1979, including a massive vaccination program, where in the past no such treatment or program existed, closed prisons instead of opening them, and created reeducation centers across the country, at least by 1981. [44] Mozambicans were able to “readily dissent and are encouraged to voice criticism in the single party,” even if not fully in the public sphere. Also by 1981, the government developed ties with: the Cubans who are active in education, transport, telecommunications, and sugar; the Soviets who are active in meteorology, mining, and fisheries; East Germany who is active in industry and planning; and numerous countries active in agriculture and health (DPRK, China, and Bulgaria). [45] Despite this, even in 1981, Mozambique was “not a Soviet satellite” but did receive more Soviet assistance than Chinese assistance.

Then there was Ethiopia. Until 1974, the government of Haile Selassie, which the Black Panther Party declared was a “pseudo-fascist, imperialist puppet” with a “fuedo-bourgeois ruling clique” while declaring their support for Eritrean independence led by the Eritrean Liberation Front, had power. [46] This relates to Cuba because in December 1976, the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army (Derg) government which embraced communism as an ideology, signed an aid agreement with the Soviets and Cuba sent a military mission, which at minimum seems to have betrayed the working class of Ethiopia or at least had problems fulfilling its goals. And weeks after the reduction the Derg and Fidel Castro issued a joint communique calling for unity among the region’s progressive forces, and as time went on, this government continued sparing with the US, signed another aid agreement with the Soviets and more Cuban technicians came. As years went on, the Derg didn’t tolerate Soviet or even Cuban interference “in domestic matters” balking at diplomacy by both countries to solve “the Eritrean and Ogaden conflicts” or to make “amends with its civilian leftist opposition” which resulted in the Cuban ambassador being asked to leave the country. [47] While the Derg did eventually send a commission to start making plans to create a vanguard party, when it was created it wasn’t as civilian-based as but it was apparently “top-heavy with military personnel and had relatively few workers and peasants in the general membership.” Some claim that Derg turned to the Soviets and the Cubans because it was convenient and that Derg sent people to East Germany, Cuba, and Soviet Union to learn Marxist theory, which one writer wackily calls “political indoctrination” and “ideological indoctrination.” Other writers say that the USSR happily gave Derg weapons and that numerous Soviet and Cuban advisers were deployed in 1977, leading to 12,000 Cubans tasked with defending Ethiopia, and which some claim were deployed to Eritrea.

At the same time there was coordination between the ELF (Eritrean Liberation Front) and the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) in fighting the Ethiopians, in fighting the Ethiopians, and calling on countries to counter Soviet and Cuban intervention and defeat “Soviet-based Ethiopia.” [48] Interestingly enough, the top architect for the ELPF went “to Cuba for military and political training in revolutionary warfare,” definitely before 1974 because that was when the Cubans were backing the ELF. Ultimately, the Derg was driven from power, with some specifics noted in later paragraphs by those using the same “vanguard political ideology…methods of mass organization, and…basic military technology—the AK-47,” with those groups being the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front and the Tegray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This battle over Ethiopia was part of a broader fight for Eritrean independence. Post-1974, when the Eritreans had been fighting the US and Israeli-basked Ethiopian empire before then, there were three groups: (1) the  government of Ethiopia (Derg from 1974-1987, PDRE from 1987 to 1991) backed by the Cubans, the Soviets, and South Yemen; (2) the ELPF and TPLF backed by the Chinese, Sudanese, Libyans, United States, Somalia, and Syria; (3) the ELF backed by Libya (until 1977), Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan. Ultimately, the Eritreans were victorious and Ethiopia became a land-locked country.

Before getting to Angola, there is one more group that should be mentioned: FRELITIN. US planners were afraid that the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, of which the pro-independence group FRELITIN declared independence for the island, would become “Cuba in the Indian Ocean” so they supported and backed an invasion and occupation by the brutal anti-communist authoritarian government of Indonesia. FRELITIN, as the main guerrilla group fighting this brutal occupation, was supported by Cuba and Vietnam but one writer claims that the Soviets were not in support. [49] While this 24-year-long occupation led to the deaths of 200,000 East Timorese, the U.S. government remained a staunch ally of Indonesia, and by 1998, Timorese organized a referendum in which they voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of being part of Indonesia (the referendum may be confusing to understand at first). In 2002 a new Timorese nation was founded, with Australia hostile of the current leader of East Timor who has been declared as a “communist” because he wants to make life better for those in Timor, and he has a good amount of grassroots support. Before going forward I think it is important to back up a second. The U$, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, prior to 1991, backed Indonesia’s occupation, while at the same time, Portugal, the Soviet Union (1975-1991), Libya, the Free Aceh Movement, post-communist Russia (1991-1999), and China backed the Timorese struggle. The page also shows that almost snidely the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Canada switched sides in 1999 to the Timorese.

Moving on, there is no need to cite anti-communist articles about FRELITIN such as one in 2006 that declares that “Fretilin may need the votes of the Cuban doctors as much as their electioneering” but it is perhaps more fruitful to share articles from the Community Party of Australia which recognizes that FRELITIN is here to stay despite he fact that “Australian media and spooks promoted stories to destabilise the FRETILIN government” or an article saying that the people of East Timor “suffered the greatest genocide registered in the 20th century” with not even the Holocaust by the Nazis managing “to reach such a high percentage of people.” Other articles of note is the always strange but sometimes useful Trotskyists at WSWS who claimed that neither FRELTIN nor its counterpart in the Timorese struggle was based on “anti-capitalist or egalitarian principles,” based in the middle-class, and that the US, along with other Western powers, was urging the Indonesian government to move into East Timor in late 1974, and that just before the intervention, “FRELITIN’s leaders declared independence.” It is worthy to note that this article, like the 90 articles (at least) on their website that slam “Stalinist bureaucracies,” has an anti-Soviet perspective along with saying that Moscow and Beijing bestowed” revolutionary credentials on Yasir Arafat, Nelson Mandela, and Fidel Castro, implying that they aren’t true liberation leaders! To be honest, this is a bunch of rubbish. Moving on, there is an article in small-circulation publication, The New Internationalist, it is noted that Cuba’s influence in East Timor goes back to 1975 when, despite what those goofs at WSWS claimed, the resistance movement “based much of its socialist ideology and guerrilla tactics on Fidel Castro’s revolutionary struggle.” The article went on to say that there is a huge amount of “murals and T-shirts depicting Che” and that Cuba’s physical involvement in the new country “began in 2003, when President Xanana Gusmao met Fidel Castro in Kuala Lumpur at a conference of non-aligned countries” and shortly thereafter, teams of Cuban doctors were sent to the country. [50]

Finally we get to Angola. What the Black Panther Party said here is relevant, as they argued that “the same small ruling circle that is exploiting and oppressing Black people in Angola is the same one that is exploiting and oppressing Black people here.” [51] While this great documentary explains a good amount of what I’m not going to go into detail here, it is still important to refresh people’s minds. For one, in there were three movements that fought in the anti-colonial struggle against Portugal in the 1960s: UNITA, FNLA, and MPLA, with China backing UNITA, the Soviets supporting the MPLA and the U$ covertly supporting FNLA. [52] In mid-1975 fighting broke out with the transitional government of these different forces, with each faction declaring their independence, and the Ford administration approved millions of dollars in covert aid to FNLA and UNITA, while the Cubans sent hundreds of military advisers. Around this time, SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) gave a material commitment to the MPLA, with SWAPO’s Secretary General arriving in Havana, and there were some suspicions that the Portuguese and Cubans were working together to send Cuban aid to Angola. It is also important to note that much of the Portuguese government thought that the MPLA “deserved to have power” and that while the UNITA was right about some details, they exaggerated “the number of Cubans in Angola and the nature of their role.”

While the FNLA, which was “trained by Portuguese colonialists and South Africans,” the Cubans had sent instructors to MPLA forces and by November 1975, by which time the MPLA government was fully established, “massive amounts of Russian and Cuban equipment had arrived at Luanda,” which included not only 15,000 Cuban troops but heavy tanks and artillery. [53] UNITA was quickly pushed by a Cuban advance and “most of Angola was for a time controlled by Neto and the MPLA” at the time. Despite this, Angola still retained its “commercial agreement with the American Gulf Oil Company to exploit the oil of Cabinda” in the 1970s which is a company that the Black Panthers had criticized in their paper back in a 1972 article about Angola and Gulf Oil, raising the question: how radical was the MPLA anyhow? While one can say that Soviet logistical support helped, it was ultimately the Cuban forces that changed the tide. [54] Some people took the side of the Chinese rather than the Soviets, like the Black Panther Party, presumably (at least before 1972), which is justified. We do know that the Chinese, as revisionism got to a fever pitch, with the foreign policy department led by Deng after 1974, they backed UNITA, led by the horrid Savimbi, thankfully killed by Angolan government forces in 2002.

Back to the Angolan proxy war, the swift success of the MPLA-Cuban allied forces “took everyone by surprise” and by February 1976, “the military confrontation…was over” and not long after, the Portuguese government symbolically “established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of Angola.” [55] Not long after that, Angola and South Africa signed a diplomatic agreement with South Africa agreeing to remove its forces while Angola promised “to guarantee the security of Calueque” meaning that “the Cubans’ intervention had proven to be a complete success.”

There are a number of other points to note here: (1) Cuba intervened in Angola not for material gains like the imperialists but because they are internationalists and wanted to assist in the “total liberation of Africa”; (2) it does not seem likely that the Cubans “accepted a submissive, client-state relationship in which the USSR plays the dominant and deciding role”; (3) in the Cuban perspective, the U$ was becoming “progressively more isolated and isolationist” in the 1970s; (4) the USSR, seeing a “growing radicalization in Africa as Portugal’s African colonies” became independent, seized an opportunity in 1975 to gain more supporters in its struggle against the U$ and China, meaning they were doing this for social imperialist, not anti-imperialist reasons; and (5) the amount of Africa countries Cuba had diplomatic relations with grew from eight in 1972 to 31 in 1976. [56] I could expand on the fact that South Africa, covertly backed by the United States, would only give South-West Africa, which became Namibia, its independence on the conditionality of Cuban withdrawal from Angola, along with an end to Soviet and Cuban aid to the government of Angola. Instead, it is a better to end on the fact that Cuban involvement in Angola was not only “responsive to long established revolutionary principles” but was a “milestone in the long history of assistance to extrahemispheric independence struggles.”

By the 1980s, the situation was changing in Africa, in regards to liberation. For Angola, Cuban troops, which some claim were “mercenaries” with withdrawn in 1989, and the new government, had to rearm itself by spending oil royalties, money that could have reconstructed its economy. [57] For Ethiopia, the volume of trade between itself and socialist countries grew significantly in the 1980s. Additionally, Cuba and Nicaragua avoided debt restructuring deals pushed by Washington since the U$ was “imposing an effective financial boycott on both left-leaning governments,” which had struggles for independence that produced outcomes the U$ did not like.

The CIA documents in the 1980s obviously have a sneering attitude, but are still important to note here. One 1982 document claimed the Fidel Castro’s decision to militarily intervene in Ethiopia was “largely at Moscow’s behest and reflected a convergence of Cuban and Soviet interests,” with 11,000 to 13,000 Cuban military personnel in Ethiopia, “organized into four brigades” and an advantage “over any conventional opposition in the region such as the Somali Army.” [58] This same document also claimed that at one time, the USSR and Cuba was “committed to Somalia” but that in the late 1970s, the Cubans and the Soviets began to “rethink Ethiopia’s military needs,” providing combat support for the government, under Somali attack, and that since 1978 the amount of Cuban military personnel in Ethiopia had decreased. Also, this document said that while Castro said in 1981 that he would “like to withdraw his troops from Ethiopia,” he supposedly, in the CIA’s view, needed Soviet approval to do so. This idea of getting needing Soviet approval is silly because Cuba had a turbulent relationship with the revisionist Soviet Union in the 1960s, which improved in the 1970s and 1980s but ruptured with Mikhail Gorbachev, who accelerated the Soviet collapse with his ideas of “glasnost” and “perestroika” which still have wide acclaim in the West as “democratic.” [59] Other scholars, including the bourgeois and likely anti-communists Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, write about how the Soviets sent $12 billion in military aid and arms to Mengistu in Ethiopia between 1977-1990, paid the expenses of the Cuban military personnel, and the Ethiopian army, claimed that the Derg had became “increasingly unpopular.” [60] These bourgeois scholars inadvertently admit that Soviet and Cuban intervention was necessary, saying that the removal of the Cuban military forces and end of massive Soviet arms shipments “released pent-up tensions both within that country [Ethiopia] and around its borders” and ultimately leading to northern Tigrean separatists moving into the Amhara heartland and occupying the capital in 1991 while Mengistu fled into exile in Zimbabwe.

Not surprisingly, the CIA was angry about Cuba’s support for radical leftists. One 1986 document declared that Cuba had been training and supporting “Third World guerrillas” for the past 27 years, claiming it had become “institutionalized within its political and governmental system” with Cuba’s mass organizations and other entities contributing to “training, equipping, funding, and transporting of leftist groups around the globe” and allowing Cuba to “export revolution to the Third World.” [61] This document even admitted that the economic crunch wouldn’t stop this aid, noting that organizations within the Cuban Communist Party “are given wide latitude by Castro in coordinating Havana’s provision of training, supplies, and funds to radical leftist groups.” Later, the document also said that by 1978 the strategy of the Cuban government changed as it backed groups advocating for “armed struggle to seize power” and the Sandinista overthrow of the Nicaraguan Somoza government in July 1979 resulted in “a more active policy of supporting guerrilla movements in the region” but that this was stunted by active U$ moves including “willingness to use military force to protect its interests abroad.” The extent of this training was admitted in the CIA document: “Cuba has trained members of some two dozen African and Latin American insurgent groups in urban and rural guerrilla warfare.” These viewpoints are not a surprise considering that, as the late bourgeois anti-imperialist and former CIA consultant, Chalmers Johnson, noted, in the 1980s, “American demonization of Castro’s Cuba ratcheted upward and the government argued vociferously that Cuban-inspired insurgencies were the hemisphere’s greatest threat.” [62] This is also evidenced by Ronald Reagan’s April 4, 1985 speech which declared that “my administration [wants to remove]…the thousands of Soviet bloc, Cuban, PLO…Libyan, and other military and security personnel” from Nicaragua.”

There are a set of other documents on Cuba. These include ones claiming that the island was in dire economic straits and under pressure. One document from 1966 declared that “the island is dependent on the outside world for industrial equipment, fuels, raw materials, critical consumer goods, and even for food.” [63] Years later, a CIA document noted that the Cuban government will try to “minimize the impact of any cuts on its priority military objectives—defense of the nation against the United States, maintenance of domestic security, and continuation of Cuba’s foreign policy.” [64] Then there was a number of documents on “debt rescheduling talks” with Cuba, with the government in 1986 having to institute “economic austerity,” which could, be considered a revisionist move, which played right into the CIA’s hands, and that it was facing horrible “financial difficulties,” more than when it began “rescheduling its hard currency debt in 1982,” which Cuban leaders said was due to a number of varied problems, causing less hard currency the previous year, including the “continued impact of the US trade embargo.” [65] Other documents that year noted that the economic crisis would play into the hands of the CIA as Cuban workers “are likely to become increasingly outspoken” in their words as the Cuban government engaged in action “against inept management and corruption,” and that Havana has “also tightened banking regulations for foreign exchange transfers” as the Soviets give the Cubans more hard currency, as they asked for. [66] Eventually, by 1988, the CIA declared that Castro found himself under pressure from the Soviets to “adopt Soviet-style planning…and to integrate Cuba more fully into CEMA” moves which they said “seriously jeopardize Castro’s longtime goal of industrializing the island and diversifying the economy.” [67] These documents are almost like the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns laughably tries to “buy” Cuba for a trillion dollars, goes before Fidel Castro (along with Homer), who takes the trillion dollar bill from this dirty capitalist, using it to improve socialist Cuba, while a more recent episode seemed to be more positive toward Cuba, with even a mural of Mr. Burns being driven out of Cuba along with other capitalist vipers in 1959.

Beyond all of this was a November 1984 document declaring to reveal “Castro’s propaganda apparatus” as the CIA put it. This document is not only laughable (and seething) in that it claims that the Cuban government as a “propaganda empire” which they want to expand, but that this “apparatus” has a “pro-Marxist bias of Castro’s propaganda apparatus” and it remains a “negative factor working against democratic interests, worldwide.” More hilariously, the document claims that this “international media empire” was organized starting in 1959, has become an “effective propaganda weapon,” which includes the performing arts in Cuba and the cinema industry “directly propagandist.” The document goes to say that “international gatherings of various kinds” in Cuba are propaganda, that there is “person-to-person propaganda,” that there is a magical “Che Guevara guerrilla cult”; that Castro has an “empire of…publicity.” Finally the document declares that “the Cuban propaganda machine” which is closely associated with its will not only “remain an important negative factor working for Cuban and Soviet interests throughout the world” but aligns with “Cuba’s self-assigned mission of promoting Marxist revolution.” The funny thing about this document is it negates completely the fact that the bourgeois media of the U$ beams out propaganda to serve the Pentagon often, that capitalist dogma is integrated within many elements of U$ society, and that Hollywood serves as a propaganda apparatus by working with the CIA (as noted here and here) and the Pentagon.

There are a number of other events in the 1980s that are worth noting, but one important institution came into existence that would make imperial destabilization across the world more “public” rather than covert. I’m not talking about Cuba respecting the DPRK’s boycott of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea or when the epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) spread across Cuba in 1981 effort which was meant to be used against Soviet forces but was actually used against the Cuban people which even Cuban exiles executing the mission didn’t like. [68] I’m talking about the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1982. In a 1982 speech to the British Parliament, Reagan explained why NED should exist, coaching his the effort by saying it would supposedly “foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture,” declaring it would “contribute…to the global campaign for democracy” in an anti-communist light, and that “the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies.” NED was simply, as the late Robert Perry of Consortium News put it, “a central part of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda war against the Soviet Union three decades ago” and has become a “slush fund that generally supports a neocon agenda.” More particularly, it has been used to, as Right Web notes, support “efforts to overthrow foreign governments,” gave neocons a “government-funded institute over which they exercised effective control,” has served as an “instrument of U.S. policy to support Cuban-American efforts to oust Cuba’s longtime leader Fidel Castro” and emphasizes “one particular form of democracy, pro-market democracy.” This site also notes that NED’s president is Carl Gershman, a “figure in U.S. sectarian politics dating back to the 1970s” and that it works through four core institutes: NDI (the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), IRI (International Republican Institute), Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

NED has a more sinister but obvious purpose. As the CIA’s lackey, David Ignatius, wrote in the Washington Post in 1991, when he was then the foreign editor, NED operatives have been going “in public what the CIA used to do in private,” and quotes Alex Weinstein as saying: “a lot of what we [NED] do[es] today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” with Ignatius adding that the biggest difference is that NED does its activities overtly which he claims is its “own protection” which has allowed them to be “successful.” [69] Years later, “soft power” advocate Joesph Nye declared in a letter that NED had “become known as an advocacy organization for the promotion of democracy,” and had in mind a “civil society fund” to promote “exchanges and interactions without a particular agenda,” which would work alongside NED. The U$ State Department claims that NED is a “private nonprofit organization” (claim also repeated here) established during the Reagan years which has programs in “more than 90 countries around the world.” As it turns out, the US State Department, the mainstay of the foreign policy establishment, gave NED hundreds of millions of dollars to fund its operations from 2009 as numerous documents show. [70] This is a rise from when in the past it was only given funding in the tens of millions.  This basically means that NED is not only part of the foreign policy establishment but is part of the murderous empire. Obviously, the former is admitted earlier than the latter with the State Department openly honoring NED recipients in 2011, admitted that NED has an “annual congressional appropriation” which basically makes it part of the US government, and is mad when the Russian government, rightly so, declared NED as an “undesirable” organization last year. Most damning of all is the State Department Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner, declaring in 2012 that he “admires” NED greatly, and thanks the NED team for promoting market/bourgeois democracy “and civil society” in Burma for the last 20+ years. [71]

Back to the history. In the 1990s, Cuba was still under imperial assault, being declared a “rogue state” by the U$, as it typical of countries deemed as “enemies,” beginning to follow, sadly, more of a revisionist path. At the same time, Cuban exiles continued to flourish in the U$, who had engaged in bombings, hijackings, kidnappings, and much more, with these terroristic Cubans enjoying “safe haven in the United States” even to this day. [72] Beyond this, not only did the US vote against UN General Assembly resolutions which condemned the US embargo against Cuba and called for its end from 1992-1999 but a crop duster of the US State Department “emitted a mist in October 1996” which released, apparently, “a plant-eating insect called Thrips palmi.” While the U$ government would deny this, this emission of dust was arguably an act of biological terrorism. At the same time, NED continued to nurture domestic opposition in Cuba to oppose Castro.

By the 2000s the situation didn’t improve. In 2002, as the US was gearing up to militarily invade Iraq, for the second time in the last ten years (first in 1991), John Bolton, who was then ambassador of the United States to the UN “presented misinformation to Congress on a Cuban biological weapons program.” [73] This incident also harkens back to Stevenson’s presentation in 1962 to the UN Security Council about what became the Cuban missile crisis in which he didn’t tell full truth, and was basically lying by omission. The former CIA and State Department analyst, Melvin Goodman, who moderately criticizes US imperial power, barked that “there have been signs of change in Cuba without any meaningful U.S. response” in an almost angry tone in his 2004 book. Also in the 2000s, it was evident, in likely continuing phenomena, that “Cuba has one of the lowest maternal death rates in the region,” that women’s participation in the paid workforce “has grown rapidly over the past 20 years,” and that “heterosexual men break no taboos by having sex with other men.” [74]

At the current time, Cuba continues to fight off efforts of imperial meddling. The people of Cuba realize this very well, knowing that the US has been trying to overthrow and/or undermine Castro and the government since 1959, which is why the Cuban government sees the CIA behind many problems. [75] The U$ has failed in its effort to “rid the Caribbean of the critical difference that Castro’s Cuba brings to the region” and this not only disrupted “U.S. supreme dominance in the Caribbean” with “instability in the Caribbean basin” showing the reflection of a murderous empire. Putting aside the fact that there are “significant populations of Africans in Cuba” and that countries such as Cuba and Brazil, have actively pursued the notion of harmony in a “racial democracy” meaning that many Cubans and Brazilians are “uncomfortable discussing race and…racism,” Cuba has done more than any other nation “to end social stratification based on skin colour.” William Blum, the wonderful foreign policy analyst and anti-imperialist, argued in his book, Rogue State, that if you consider “education and healthcare…then it would appear that during the more-than-40 years of its revolution, Cuba has enjoyed one of the very best human-rights records in all of Latin America.”


Notes

[1] Oliver, Ronald and Atmore, Anthony. Africa Since 1800 (Fifth Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 72, 91; Green, Duncan. Faces of Latin America (Third Edition). London: Latin America Bureau, 2006. 11; Zinn, Howard; Konopacki, Mike; and Buhle, Mike. A People’s History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaptation. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008. 32. On this same page, they write that this war erupted in “1868 when Carlos Manuel de Cespesdes, backed by other white farmers in Oriente province, freed his slaves and announced Grito De Yara [Cry of Yara literally, a call to arms], declaring Cuba’s independence.” This is important to understand in understanding this revolutionary history.

[2] Ibid, 32, 37, 39

[3] Ibid, 43, 44.

[4] The promotion of war was within promotion by vaudeville entrepreneurs to fake movies of the war, making it America’s “first filmed war.” Yellow journalism established certain precedents for mass-marketing war and empire, adopted by “respectable” newspapers” in later years and that “the continued mass-marketing of wars and empire, through the media apparatus and official public relations channels, proves that yellow journalism is still with us.” Richard Seymour argues that a “number of Japanese soldiers in Hawaii worried the planters” when the US was conquering Cuba and the Philippines and that before 1898, the US “even tried to purchase Cuba several times,” but this did not succeed. For the full citation: Seymour, Richard. The Liberal Defense of Murder. New York: Verso, 2008. 86, 93.

[5] Zinn, Konopacki and Buhle, A People’s History of American Empire, 51, 52.

[6] Seymour, The Liberal Defense of Murder, 94, 125; Weber, Cynthia. Faking It: U.S. Hegemony in a “Post-Phallic” Era. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 20, 25; Green, Faces of Latin America, 73. Green expands on this by saying the following: “young radicals formed guerrilla groups in Brazil, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, all of which met with failure or were forced radically to rethink their tactics…with intensive counter-insurgency training from the US, the Bolivian army soon tracked down and defeated the isolated ‘freedom fighters’ [in Bolivia], and Guevara was shot” (page 75)  Weber also argues on page 3 that “the Caribbean is the location to which the United States historically has turned to “find itself.”” This is is relevant considering U$ imperialist actions in the Caribbean over the years.

[7] “Interview With A New Man – A Cuban Revolutionary.” The Black Panther, April 17, 1971. Page 12.

[8] Green, Faces of Latin America, 194;  CIA, January 3, 1984:“Cuba: Castro’s Propaganda Apparatus and Foreign Policy”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the searches here give me different identifying numbers, the document is apparently the same.

[9] Green, Faces of Latin America, 58, 78.

[10] Seymour, The Liberal Defense of Murder, 126-7; Weber, Faking It, 2-3. I’m not sure about this whole “reading” thing, but it is clear that the United States saw Cuba differently before the revolution than after.

[11] Fitzgerald, Romane. “Prospects for Revolutionary Intercommunal Warfare.” The Black Panther, May 8, 1971. Page 16; Green, Faces of Latin America, 78, 86, 101; Weber, Faking It, 13, 14, 22, 28, 31.

[12] Goodman, Melvin A. National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. San Francisco: City Light Books, 2013. 24, 33, 50.

[13] Weber, Faking It, 14.

[14] Kennedy, John K. “The Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy’s Address to the Nation (1962).” A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America (ed. William H. Chaffe, Harvard Sitkoff and Beth Bailey). New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 27; Seymour, Liberal Defense of Murder, 127.

[15] CIA, 1962: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP79M00098A000200070001-2. Based on the document, it was likely written in 1962. However the tone of the document makes it seem that it was written well after then. This report is assumed to be the U.S. Intelligence Board or the CIA in general. At the meeting of the USIB it was also declared that “the Soviets evidently hope to deter any such attempt by enhancing Castro’s defensive capabilities and by threatening Soviet military retaliation…they…recognize that the development of an offensive military base in Cuba might provoke U.S. military intervention and thus defeat their present purpose…the threat inherent in these developments is that, to the extent that that Castro regime thereby gains a sense of security at home, it will be emboldened to become more aggressive in fomenting revolutionary activity in Latin America.” The fact that even the USIB recognized this is significant.

[16] CIA, 1960: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP90T00782R000100120008-3. Based on this link, I can determine this is a document from 1960.

[17] CIA, 1985: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the title is unknown the sections cited are the following “Negotiations of President Reagan” and “Draft Proposed Language Rejecting a False Political Solution.”

[18] Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. 93.

[19] For the words “actually overthrow” see this page. For the words “angry Cuban exiles” see these two pages here and and here. For the words “acts of sabotage” see this page. For the words “internal revolt” see this page. For the words “cause chaos in Cuba” see this page. For the words “sabotage operations” see this page. Richard Seymour describes Operation Mongoose on page 127 as a “policy of sabotage, attempted assassination and planned terrorist attacks” which were aimed against Castro, who wasn’t even Communist when he began his revolutionary path. For the words “anti-Castro terrorist activity” see pages here and here. For the words “Cuban dissident groups” see this page. For the words “escalating covert operations” see this page. In terms of other pages, they show that the U$ was worried about supposed Cuban “retaliation,” the CIA telling a Cuban contact that material would be provided to kill Castro and wanting a speech by Kennedy to serve as a signal to dissident elements in Cuba that the US government supported them.

[20] Durnham, Robert B. Operation Northwoods. False Flags, Covert Operations, and Propaganda. First Edition. Pages 143-5. This assassination attempts included trying to sabotage Castro’s speeches, poison Castro’s cigars (with the poison even tested on monkeys), using gambling contacts to try and assassinate Castro, and other wacky plans like a poison pen, by rifle and so on. Also see Blum, William. Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000. 39, 108-9.

[21] Hanley, Richard. The World Trembles. Celia Sanchez: The Legend of Cuba’s Revolutionary Heart. New York: Agora Publishing, 2005. 146; Ellston, Jon. Operation Mongoose. Psywar on Cuba: The Declassified History of U.S. Anti-Castro Propaganda (ed. Jon Ellston). New York: Ocean Press, 1999. 117. Commentary before a USIA and CIA document about this blimp on the following page.

[22] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 94-7. As Gleijeses writes on page 97, at the same time, the “CIA mercenary army” which included Cuban exiles was “slaughtering Simbas,” with some saying it was “target practice for Fidel Castro”; Robert McNamara admits this, writing on page 215 of the book, Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy that “covert operations almost always convey to those on the receiving end more hostile intent or capability than is meant or available. The 34-A operations against the North Vietnamese were just like Operation “MONGOOSE” against Cuba…We in Washington thought MONGOOSE was…merely “psychological salve for inaction.” The Cubans…believed it was a forerunner to invasion by the United States. This was a factor leading them to seek assistance from the Soviets, which in turn led to the Cuban missile crisis.”

[23] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 98.

[24] Ibid, 95.

[25] Green, Faces of Latin America, 191.

[26] By 1969, the Williams family returned. Page 51 of the book by Freedom Archives (cited in next footnote) notes that Mabel said that Fidel Castro agreed that Rob could have his own program, called Radio Free Dixie, a weekly program which was rebroadcast, with Rob writing the script and editorials, Mabel collecting news items. Also see Freedom Archives. “Transcription of Self-Respect, Self-Defense, and Self-Determination” (audio documentary). Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide. San Francisco, CA: Agape Foundation, 2005. 13, 14, 25, 30.

[27] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 85-87. Later, as noted on page 87, one of the FRELIMO leaders, Mondalone, admitted in July 1968 that Cuba helped them “materially and technically, sending us war material [sic] and training some of our [military] cadres.”

[28] Ibid, 87-8, 90-2, 98, 99, 100; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 242. Gleijeses argues that Raul Castro was focused more on creating a powerful military than “Cuba’s wars of national liberation” on page 91. Gleijeses argues that there is little evidence that the Chinese provided more assistance than the Soviets in these liberation struggles and that the Soviets did not know about this training until April 1965 when Che told the Soviet Ambassador at the time. Gleijeses also argues on pages 98 to 99 that the Cuban perception of what was happening in Africa was not completely accurate because of an “overstimulation of the revolutionary potential” in Africa in general, and Zaire in particular, and there were no Cuban intelligence service in Zaire until early 1965.

[29] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 102, 104.

[30] Ibid, 105, 106, 119.

[31] Valdes, Nelson P. Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola. Cuba in the World (ed. Cole Blasier and Carmelo Mesa-Lago). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979. 95, 96.

[32] Mittelman, James H. Underdevelopment and the Transition to Socialism: Mozambique and Tanzania. New York: Academic Press, 1981. 38, 40; Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 95. Around that time, a Cuban delegation headed by Armando Acosta went to Mozambique after its independence, but is unknown what was said as noted on page 98 of Cuba in the World by Valdes.

[33] “Hollywood, Si! Cuba, No!: U.S. Government Conspires to Keep Revolutionary Films from American People.” The Black Panther, June 10, 1972. P. 5, 17.

[34] Newton, Huey. “Message of solidarity to our Cuban comrades.” The Black Panther, August 6, 1971. Pages 8-9. Letter sent on July 24, 1971.

[35] Blum, Rogue State, 109, 111.

[36] For the 97.7% number: Suchlicki, Jaime. The Decade of Institutionalization. Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond (Fifth Edition). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2002. 299; Cannon, Terence. Revolutionary Cuba. Crowell: 1981. 245; Hanke, Lewis and Rausch, Jane M. People and Issues in Latin American History: From Independence to the Present: Sources and Interpretations. Makus Wiener Publishers, 1999. 346; Deutsch, Karl W., Dominguez, Jorge I., and Heclo, Hugh. Comparative government: politics of industrialized and developing nations. Houghton Mifflin: 1981. 440; Suchlicki, Jaime. Historical Setting. Cuba: A Country Study (ed. Rex A. Hudson). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2001. 79; best information comes from this source: Dominguez, Jorge. Mass Political Participation. Cuba: Order and Revolution. London: Belknap Press, 1978. 301. More books can be found here, most of which I didn’t list because you can only read “snippets” of them.

[37] Mujal-Leon, Eusebio. Higher Education and the Institutionalized Regime. Cuban Communism 1959-1995 (Eighth Edition, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz). London: New Brunswick Publishers, 1995. 365; de la Barra, Ximena and Dello Buono, Richard A. “Challenging the Existing Legality.” Latin America after the Neoliberal Debacle: Another Region is Possible. Plymouth, UK: Roman & Littlefield, 2009. 128-9; Unknown author. Cuba Since 1959. Cuba: A Short History (ed. Leslie Bethell). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998 reprint. Originally published in 1993. 129; Diaz-Briquets, Sergio and Pérez-López, Jorge F. Law and Practice of Environmental Protection. Conquering Nature: The Environmental Legacy of Socialism in Cuba. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000. 47-8; Gargarella, Roberto. Constitutionalism at the Mid-Twentieth Century and the Return of the “Social Question.” Latin American Constitutionalism, 1810-2010: The Engine Room of the Constitution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 126.

[38] See Travieso-Diaz, Matias F. Foreign Investment Legislation. The Laws and Legal System of a Free-market Cuba: A Prospectus for Business. London: Quorum Books, 1997. 106; Venegas, Cristina. Introduction. Digital Dilemmas: The State, The Individual, and Digital Media in Cuba. Rutgers University Press: London, 2010. 27.

[39] Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions, 227; “Mozambique is Our Home.” The Black Panther, October 13, 1971. Page 11. Printed in the section of The Black Panther called “Intercommunal News.” In The Black Panther it is noted that after Mozambicans tried to peacefully demonstrate and were massacred by Portuguese colonists on June 16, 1960, the Mozambican people “learned that revolutionary violence was the only avenue left. So, in 1962, FRELIMO was formed, and armed struggle began in 1964.”

[40] “Mozambique is Our Home.” The Black Panther, October 13, 1971. Page 18. Printed in the section of The Black Panther called “Intercommunal News.” This article also notes that at the time, Portugal was “even attempting an appeasement program in the yet-to-be liberated portions of Mozambique…the Mozambican people are winning, just as the Vietnamese people are winning, just as all of the oppressed people of the world will someday win over the oppressive United States Empire.”

[41] Sadukai, Owusu. “People’s Survival Programs Thrive In Mozambique: Free Hospitals, Free Food, Free Schools for the Oppressed Black Community of Mozambique.” The Black Panther, April 7, 1972. Page 9-10. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity. On page 11 it is noted that when a former Portuguese soldier was captured, instead of being tortured like the Portuguese do to FRELIMO fighters they capture, he was “given the standard FRELIMO treatment – intense political education. He was made aware of Portuguese exploits in Mozambique.”

[42] “Where Bombs are Common: Afro-American Brother Endures Portuguese Attack with FRELIMO Guerrillas.” The Black Panther, April 15, 1972. Page 9, 15, 16-17. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity; Sadukai, Owusu. ““Tradition” Used to Oppress Africans.” The Black Panther, April 8, 1972. Page 8, 9, 11. Reprinted from The American World Newspaper which was published by the Student Organization for Black Unity. It is important to note, as pointed out in page 10 of Sadukai’s article, that “the first hospitals (and the only ones in those areas) came with the FRELIMO forces. In the area was visited, a few Italian doctors had come in and trained a corps of FRELIMO medical officers who in turn tutored local people in basic bio-medical practices such as administering shots and the like.”

[43] Dorsch, Hauke. Trans-Atlantic Educational Crossroads: Experiences of Mozambican Students in Cuba. Transatlantic Caribbean: Dialogues of People, Practices, Ideas (ed. Ingrid Kummels, Claudia Rauhut, Stefan Rinke, and Birte Timm). Transcript Verlag (also by Columbia University Press), 2014. 85.

[44] Mittelman, Underdevelopment and the Transition to Socialism, 105, 117.

[45] Ibid, 118.

[46] “U.S. Empire’s Ethiopian Estate.” The Black Panther, Feb. 6, 1971, pages 12-3; Schoultz, Lars. Reconciliation and Estrangement: The Carter Years. That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. 313. Human Rights Watch balked, calling the government “dictatorial” in nature, of course.

[47] Weldemichael, Awet T. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 161.; Keller, Edmond J. Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People’s Republic (First Midland Books Edition). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 201, 223, 231, 268. Clearly an anti-communist, but something can be gleaned from the book, something

[48] Weldemichael, Awet T. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 155, 162-3; Crummey, Donald. Transformations: State, Land, and Society in Twentieth-Century Ethiopia. Land and Kingdom in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia: From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000. 251.

[49] Weldemichael, Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation, 196.

[50] This article also notes the following: “the history of Cuba’s large medical workforce begins in 1959. At the start of Fidel Castro’s revolution most of its doctors fled to the US. By necessity it had to train a large number of its own doctors. Since then the Government has focused on developing and maintaining a first-class universal healthcare system, actively encouraging its youth to pursue training in the health sciences and putting no restrictions on the number of doctors it trains. As a consequence, Cuba now has the highest number of doctors per capita in the world: in 2005 it had one doctor for every 159 people.”

[51] “Gulf Oil – From Atlanta to Angola.” Intercommunal News, June 5, 1971. page 13. The Intercommunal News was printed inside of The Black Panther. This article also says the following: “the same ruling circle that would stifle the revolutionary movements in Angola would do so here in its attempt to maintain and control of all the communities of the world. We must unite as oppressed people with the revolutionary forces in our world communities in order to transform this Empire into a new world, free of dominion and exploitation of man by man.” In a later article, “the Tanzaniation of Tanzania” in The Black Panther on June 26, 1971 (page 16), they imply that movements in Angola other than the MPLA are not revolutionary ones: “Tanzania has opened her doors in militant solidarity to revolutionary and progressive people throughout the world, and headquarters many African revolutionary organizations, such as MPLA…FRELIMO…[and] SWAPO…all located in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar Es Salaam…because of Nyerere’s strong and effective leadership…the U.S. Empire and its lackey, Great Britain, have been unable to establish any economic domination or control over Tanzania.”

[52] Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 97-101. The text says Nixon but it is wrong as he was NOT in office at the time, having resigned in 1974.

[53] Ibid, 101-3; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 277; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 277, 278.

[54] Valdes, “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 105-6. There is a revealing quote by Cuban Communist politician Carlos Rafael Rodriguez who said the following, with my italics at the end: “Cuba and Angola did not have all the technical means for their men to fight the racist South African army [basically UNITA]. Without the USSR, imperialism would have defeated the Angolan people.” However, he may be over-stating Soviet support.

[55] Ibid, 107, 108.

[56] Ibid, 109-12; Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 279, 299; Valdes “Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola,” 113.

[57] Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 302, 339; Keller, Revolutionary Ethiopia, 268; Green, Faces of Latin America, 33; Johnson, Chalmers. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010. 57.

[58] CIA, 1982: “Key Judgments“; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. I say 1982 because of the tone of the document overall implying it was written that year. The number of Cuban military personnel is strangely enough reported by Bob Woodward and numerous other sources. This document is important because it is Interagency Intelligence Memo requested by the Policy Planning Staff and Assistant Secretaries for Inter-American and African Affairs of the US State Department. This Memo was prepared under the “auspices of the National Intelligence Officer for Africa” with contributions from the CIA, DIA, and State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, along with coordination with the CIA, State Department, NSA, intelligence organizations of the military, DIA, and numerous other government bodies. This document also said the following: “most Cuban advisers and troops are rotated after a two-year tour…the Soviets supply virtually all the equipment, ammunition, and petroleum used by the Cubans.” It also says that Castro “probably agrees with Moscow that Cuban troops: [1] support pro-Soviet regimes in Ethiopia and South Yemen [2] Counter US influence in the region, particularly in Somalia [3] Provide a base for the potential development of Cuban forces to other areas in the region. Furthermore, the USSR does not appear to have any pressing financial or military reasons to favor the reduction of Cuban forces…Moscow may see the Cuban troops as a means of furthering its aims and exerting psychological leverage on the Mengistu regime.”

[59] Weber, Faking It, 33.

[60] Oliver and Atmore, Africa Since 1800, 317, 340.

[61] CIA, December 1986: “Cuba: Training Third World Guerrillas;” Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. This document also declares that “Castro’s longtime strategy for promoting and supporting armed revolution in the Third World remains virtually undisturbed…this extensive infrastructure [of Cuba’s government and affiliated organizations] has as its principal long-term goal the systematic destabilization of governments targeted for overthrow by Havana” with the last part of destabilization of governments sounding more like what the CIA DOES than what Cuba ever did. The document also says that Cuba “funded and offered materiel assistance to regional leftist organizations in an effort to unify splintered radical groups” and that “the Cuban Communist Party’s 14-member Politburo theoretically functions as the chief decision-making and oversight body for Havana’s tightly controlled guerrilla support program” but that in practice “specific components of the larger Central Committee” are responsible for this effort, for “providing cohesion and direction to Cuba’s “liberation” programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

[62] Johnson, Chalmers. Blowblack: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004. 28; CIA, 1985: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While the title is unknown the sections cited are the following “Negotiations of President Reagan” and “Draft Proposed Language Rejecting a False Political Solution.”

[63] CIA, 1966: “Cuba’s Sugar Crop Failure Poses Major Problems”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While I didn’t print out the page that had the data, using inference it seems this document was created in 1966. This document also said that “Cuba’s sugar is now harvested and the results pose a rather bleak outlook for the island…the fundamental reason for the poor harvest was bad weather…there are many other factors…related to the nature of the Castro regime…the poor sugar harvest will have serious repercussions on the entire Cuban economy…most of the [sugar] crop goes to the Soviet bloc, but Cuba also sells substantial amounts of sugar in the Free World.

[64] CIA, 1980s: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD.  I do know the unique number of this document, which is CIA-RDP88T00768R000300290001-2. I say 1980s because I do not know the specific year and the document has a tone that seems like it was written AFTER the 1970s had ended. This document also says that “since 1975, construction and upgrading of military facilities have been stressed.”

[65] First document: CIA, November 7, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP97-0077R00100640001-2. Second document: CIA, July 18, 1986: “Cuba: Growing Foreign Financing Problems.” Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. While this not the title of the document, it is the title of the section that I quote from. The first 1986 document said that “President Castro appears to have little choice but to eventually tighten economic austerity…Havana may try to negotiate its July rescheduling agreement with the Paris Club in hopes of reversing the commercial creditors’ decision not to commit any new funding…Cuban policymakers appear to be planning spending cuts, probably under the assumption of little immediate hard currency relief…increased austerity…is likely to raise the level of domestic dissatisfaction already exhibited in escalating antisocial activity.” The second 1986 document says that “Havana has…unilaterally suspended interest payments on both its official and commercial debt coming due in early July” and that “start-up delays, planning and distribution problems, agricultural disasters, and the continued impact of the US trade embargo also were cited by Cuban officials as major factors retarding the growth of hard currency exports last year.”

[66] CIA, August 22, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP88-00798R000400130005-1. CIA, August 29, 1986: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number, which is CIA-RDP88-00798R000400140005-0.

[67] CIA, 1988: Title unknown; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. All that I have to reference this document is its unique number: CIA-RDP88T00768R000200170001-6. A caption of one picture mentions that the Soviet Embassy Complex was “inaugurated last year,” that year being 1987. That means the document had to be been created in 1988. This document also said that “Castro continued to try to justify his requests to Moscow for increased aid by reminding the Soviets of his usefulness to them in the Third World…Castro has had no new “victories” in the Third World to herald in recent years, however, and in our judgment, the Cuba leader’s ability to deflect Moscow’s pressures is at its lowest point since 1967.”

[68] Blum, Rogue State, 109-10; Johnson, Blowblack, 119.

[69] Nye, Joseph. “Letters.” Foreign Policy. 161 (2007): 4, 10, 12-5. ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2016; Ignatius, David. “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.” The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext): c01. Sep 22 1991.ProQuest. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Ignatius was then foreign editor of the Washington Post. One article, I found when researching, which focuses on the Solidarity Center, part of NED, claimed that this article was in the New York Times but it turns out that that wasn’t correct. Still, the article did seem to be otherwise comprehensive in its criticism. Even Melvin Goodman, the former CIA analyst calls Ignatius an apologist for the CIA, especially for its crimes in recent years (see here and here).

[70] See documents here, here, here, here, and here. Also see documents here, here, here, and here. There’s also these documents on US State Department funding of NED here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[71] Even the former UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine (basically) Human Rights, Richard Falk, who has often written about Israel and Palestine, wrote in a 2012 opinion piece the following: “…Washington shrieks of wounded innocence, as if Cairo had no grounds whatsoever for concern, are either the memory lapses of a senile bureaucracy or totally disingenuous. In the past it has been well documented that IRI and DNI were active in promoting the destabilisation of foreign governments that were deemed to be hostile to the US foreign policy agenda. The Reagan presidency made no secret of its commitment to lend all means of support to political movements dedicated to the overthrow of left-leaning governments in Latin America and Asia.” This is important to note as the US thinks that other countries “forget” its past efforts of destabilization.

[72] Johnson, Blowblack, 87; Blum, Rogue State, 80, 110-1, 197;  de la Barra, Ximena and Dello Buono, Richard A. “Fragilities of Representative Democracy in the Washington Consensus Era.” Latin America after the Neoliberal Debacle: Another Region is Possible. Plymouth, UK: Roman & Littlefield, 2009. 21.

[73] Goodman, National Insecurity, 264, 377.

[74] Green, Faces of Latin America, 153, 157, 165. On page 157, Green notes that “one writer noted that although male Communist Party militants may offer to do the washing, they insist that their wives hang it out to dry so that their neighbours won’t find out!”

[75] Johnson, Dismantling the Empire, 14; Blum, Rogue State, 140-1, 169; Weber, Faking It, 1, 4, 7, 35; Green, Faces of Latin America, 135, 145-6, 148.

Cuba: an imagined scenario

This 1896 cartoon is a Spanish satirical drawing by Manuel Moline, published in a Catalan satire magazine, criticizes U.S. behavior in relation to Cuba. The cartoon is titled “the falter of Uncle Sam” and the caption at the bottom simply says that Spain should keep or save (depending on the translation) so the island (Cuba) so it won’t be lost. While it takes a view, which is basically in favor of Spanish empire to “save” Cuba, it is still relevant today as the US is clearly engaging in the same actions in regards to Cuba.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Apr. 17, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

There has been much talk about the U$ “opening up” to Cuba since “normalization” of relations starting in late 2014. Amerikan hotel corporations such as Airbnb, Starwood, Marriott, and possibly Choice Hotels, along with other companies like AT&T, are already salivating at this opportunity of what they see as a new market, with many working out deals to obtain a foothold in the country. [1] Different articles in the bourgeois New York Times note that hotel chains such as Starwood and Marriott are expected to begin managing hotels that cater to American expectations, due to the expected increase of U$ tourists, while the hotels themselves are owned by the Cuban state tourism company and staffed mainly by Cubans, with U$ elections apparently a factor of whether Cuban officials see these investments as worthwhile. [2] Additionally, companies such as PepsiCo, Home Depot, Caterpillar, and Deere & Company, want to, in the view of the Times, establish “a toehold in the country” but that it will be nearly impossible “for American companies with franchise-based models” like McDonald’s, Subway or Dunkin’ Donuts “to establish beachheads.” [3] Industry trade groups are at the front lines of this “race” to “open” up Cuba to more Western investment, first by ending the Cuba embargo, like the recently-created U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba and the National Chicken Council. [4] The most fervent is the conservative business group, the US Chamber of Commerce, wanting to lift travel, trade, and any other restrictions on Cuba, such as economic sanctions, even creating an entity called the U.S.-Cuba Business Council, since at least 2000, and staying within the bounds of anti-communism. [5] This response by the capitalist class is not a surprise. After all, as Marx and Engels noted in the Communist Manifesto, the bourgeoisie is in need of “a constantly expanding market for its products” meaning that “it must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere” and engage in “exploitation of the world market.” [6] This article puts forward a unique way of looking at this issue by proposing a not-so-distant-future scenario of what could happen if the “democratic” opposition, backed by the U$ government, is victorious in their fight against the Cuban government.

A frightening scenario

Let’s say the wild dream of the liberals and progressives comes true, and their “savior,” Bernie Sanders wins the U$ presidency (which is highly unlikely, but bear with me). Even though he claims to be a socialist, he is clearly a social democrat with a “moderate” imperialist foreign policy, as noted in my previous post. Imagine if you will, this scenario in the year 2018, in the fall of that year. [7] Here it goes…


All those years of meddling paid off…for the Amerikan capitalists. Radio/TV Marti, a program of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, declared triumphantly that John F. Kennedy’s wish for a “genuinely independent Cuba, free to determine its destiny” had been achieved and that the “captive people of Cuba” have been freed from the yoke of oppression. [8] At this time, the U$ Congress had voted unanimously for the Cuban Freedom Restoration Act of 2018 the previous fall (fall 2017), lifting the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba which the United Nations General Assembly had voted against year after year, declaring it as unnecessary. [9] There was no need for any more “mercenaries of empire” as the previous Cuban government had called them, which the U$ propaganda news outlet, Voice of America, called the “moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers,” not like the mujahadeen, with a picture of the USAID-funded Cuban Transition Project researchers cheering. The International Republican Institute (IRI) mused that their magical public opinion poll, years back, cited approvingly by the bourgeois media, was right, and that they had predicted the reality.[10]

In the Miami Herald, Elizardo Sanchez, founder of the former Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission, who had been declared as a “well-known human rights activist” and a “leading dissident” in the past, laughed that the former Cubans were right to declare her as an enemy who could easily stage a protest. She revealed openly that her group had been funded by USAID, the whole time that the U$ State Department used it as a source in their reports from 1999-2015, [11] which she was proud of, because in her words, the U$ were “greeted as liberators” in Cuba, serving the indispensable bastion of democracy in the world. [12] The ZunZuneo project, which had been covertly backed by USAID years ago, was now openly backed by USAID, and a panoply of other agents, with millions of dollars going to support civil society initiatives in Cuba, with an anti-communist flavor of course, and it was booming, with over 400,000 users in Florida and parts of Cuba. [13] There was no need to call Cuba a “totalitarian” or “authoritarian” state headed by Fidel Castro, as the U$ State Department had done. [14] Instead, in a rare joint press conference between the U$ State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), it was declared that the only “dictatorship” in the Western Hemisphere had vanished, erasing the repression of what they called the Castro regime, and that the society was now open, thanks to the pro-democracy movement they had fostered with their monies, as they openly admitted. [15]

What an open society meant should be obvious. The new Cuban government, easily recognized by the imperial U$ government, was very welcoming of U$ investment. As a result, they had dismantled the “collectivist system” and removed government controls on agriculture, which the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) had criticized in 2008. There was, as Conoco Senior Managers had wanted in 2002, blatant propaganda in the bourgeois media within the United States encouraging Amerikan workers and businesses to fulfill their wildest dreams in Cuba, to seize their economic opportunities by the horns. The new “democratic” Cuban government, at least as it was described that way by the U$ State Department, had reformed its economy, and improved its human rights record, as perceived by Tom Donahue, still president of the U$ Chamber of Commerce. [16]

The power of free enterprise, as bourgeois analysts in newspapers and talking heads in the corporate media declared, had been unleashed in Cuba in an unstoppable torrent. The first step was the continuation of a dialogue on confiscated assets. This dialogue, accompanied by the shift from a planned economy to a full-on market economy, included instituting laws that attempted to address claims of those “whose properties were wrongly expropriated without compensation” at least in the eyes of USAID and the new government in Cuba. Advisers of the new government had followed Matías F. Travieso-Díaz’s “Alternative Recommendations for Dealing with Confiscated Property in Post-Castro Cuba” as outlined in a 2003 report of the USAID-funded Cuban Transition Project. The report declared that resolution of U$ claims is not practicable as long as the previous government, at this time not in power, is in power, and that a transitional government will be burdened “by a very large external debt” owed to Western private and public lenders and will have to default “on its loan obligations.” By this point, the transition government was declared democratic by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the OAS had readmitted Cuba with a cheers of applause at its first meeting.

The property claims were resolved, which was why, based on a model as put forward in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, the economic embargo had been lifted, following the exact pathway noted in a USAID report all those years ago. [17] President Sanders, in a speech in June 2018, cheered the removal of a “communist dictator,” just like had when he had called Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez a “dead communist dictator,” and certified that a “democratically elected government has achieved power in Cuba,” initiating this process. The events that followed were outlined precisely in the report, with the Cuban government paying about $6 billion to U$ individuals and corporations with property claims before expropriation in 1959 and the early 1960, encouraging right-wing Cuban-American exiles to be some of “the first investors in an open Cuban market” and compensating them for expropriated property. They knew that if this was unresolved, then the power of this exile community “could be turned against stabilizing a new government in Cuba” which could harm Cuba-U.S. relations. [18] Additionally, those Cubans were against the Cuban government, in the past, were compensated in order to avoid “capital flight from the island.” At the same time, the decision of a court in the past, which “awarded damages of $181.1 billion and ordered the U.S. to apologize” for the Cuban embargo, was annulled. There was also the establishment of a Cuba-U.S. Claims Tribunal and Cuban Special Claims Court with the Cuba-U.S. Claims Agreement, a treaty unanimously supported by the U.S. Senate and happily supported by President Sanders. At the same time, U$ corporations have been rushing into Cuba since this new government took control, as they declared that there would be “sustainable foreign investment in the Cuban economy,” unlike in the past, and that they had to beat foreign competitors.

The new Western-friendly, “democratic” government of Cuba had followed what NED’s president said in 2006, ending “its isolation from the international economy,” implying neoliberal policy. This government has also released literature deriving from a speech by George W. Bush at the U$ Chamber of Commerce, for NED’s 20th anniversary, declaring that its rise to power is part of “the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500 year story of democracy…the advance of markets and free enterprise” which ends an “outpost of oppression in our world” and declares that “Communism, and militarism and rule by the capricious and corrupt are the relics of a passing era.” It has made this a reality in a simple way. For one, the former four major pillars of the Cuban economy, “tourism, Venezuelan subsidies, Cuban health care to foreign patients, and nickel mining,” as noted in an old USAID report, has been expanded and changed. These changes includes the negotiating of a free trade agreement between the right-wing Venezuelan government and the the government of Cuba, pushed along by the United States. At the same time, Cuba had a lot of external debt, as was noted earlier, they worked with financiers from the World Bank, IMF, and hedge funds to hammer out a deal. This deal was destructive of the existing socialist system, but it made the companies very pleased.

The reforms demanded by Western donors were neoliberal and involved privatization. Rather than be guided by what some important people said at a conference in 2004 about Cuba’s future in transitioning from communism, the government leaped into action. It took to heart what Antonio Jorge had written in a report for Cuban Transition Project in 2003: “Privatization will be, in more than one sense, the centerpiece of the transition process. The particulars it will exhibit will be decisive in stimulating the reconstruction of the economy and energizing its development.” First, this government, in order to supposedly make Cuba’s workers more productive, “let wages and working conditions be determined by market forces,” meaning that there are few regulations on workplaces and a low minimum wage, along with consideration of education vouchers. [19] In addition, the government claimed that, similar to what Carmelo Mesa-Lago said in a 2005 Cuban Transition Project report, which advocates for neoliberalism and implies privatization, Cuba’s economy will only be “saved” “unless current policies are reversed again in the direction of the market.” [20] In an even bigger step, the government declared, following the view of USAID Director of the Office of Infrastructure and Engineering, Juan Belt, that there needs to be significant “reforms” to the electricity sector “to give comfort to potential investors.” These reforms include privatization of the state-owned utility Union Electrica and more utilities like in pre-1959 Cuba, Batista’s dictatorship. Also, following the report, the government declared that there needs to be movement to “a competitive model” in the electricity sector, which “would take three to five years” and welcomed US government support for the “potential reforms of the power sector.”

That’s not all. Following the views of USAID engineers in August 2007, the government declared recently that there should be more private sector participation in telecommunications, making the environment for private investment favorable, and privatizing numerous sectors. According to the report, the government would raise tariffs to cover costs, privatize “distribution companies [and] privatize [energy] generation after distribution companies have been privatized for one year,” open up the telecom industry to “competition” and ultimately engage in full privatization, and privatize the water sector. The report said something that the government completely agrees with, that “there may be a need to have an overall privatization strategy…a reform of these infrastructure sector and particularly privatization has to be carried out under a framework for addressing property claims,” with privatization completed in five years time. Other reports that the government followed, declared that the telecommunications network should be privatized by creating “a privately owned telephone network” along with increasing the “the attractiveness of a privatized communications enterprise.” The government has also followed the recommendations of Steven G. Ullmann in a Cuban Transition Project report in 2005, who argued that the Cuban healthcare system should be privatized with a plan to “allow and foster a two-tiered public/private system of health care,” and providing an “opportunity for foreign investment.” The current, Western-friendly government ignored the parts of the report which said that “Cuba’s comprehensive health care system serves the entire population” and touted some its successes, but noted that the privatization of health care was vital going forward but that “the basic health care system [must] be maintained” because otherwise it could “cause significant disruption and foster distrust for any new regime.”

There is one more step forward, one that will shake the bedrock of Cuba completely. This isn’t in reference to the 1996 law [21] which claims that “the timing, nature and course of the Cuban transition [from communism] must be determined by the Cuban people themselves” which is a lie. It also isn’t in reference to the fact that with such a transition government, the United States is prepared “to enter into negotiations to either return the Naval Base at Guantanamo to Cuba” or renegotiate it, and it isn’t about establishing a market economy, as an old USAID report notes. Its about looking back to either retain or incorporate elements of the 1940 Cuban Constitution, assisted by Western donors to bring neoliberalism to “areas such as market economics, finance, accounting, business management, law, sociology and history,” assisted by the United States and the international community, whatever that means. The government simply followed the guidelines of Oscar M. Garibaldi and John D. Kirby in their 2003 Cuban Transition Project report. [22] The report argued that “the constitutional protection of private property rights” is an economic necessity, with “a system of private property rights adequately protected by law and free of excessive restrictions is a necessary condition to the development of free-market democracy” noting that the previous Cuban government, in their words, engaged in “outright destruction of the fabric of private property rights.” The transitional government now in place agrees that there should be economic redress for dispossessed owners of seized property, legitimizing the government to “the international investment community,” and accompanied by “rapid privatization of state-owned property, especially by means of restitution to dispossessed owners.” Most concerning to people who care about justice across the world, on the radical side of the equation, was the creation of a new Cuban Constitution, based off the 1940 constitution, which has numerous clauses “more or less directly related to the protection of property rights” including Articles 23, 24, 33, 43, 87, 89, 90, 93, 273, 274, 276. The government then declared, echoing the report, that there was a need to “strengthen the institution of private property” in order to “develop markets and to attract outside investment” and that the new constitution needs to be brought into “harmony with the democratic, free market revolution that has swept much of Latin America and Eastern Europe during the last two decades.” They lastly declared that “the regime of Fidel Castro has left Cubans in chains and in tatters.”

All of this was possible because of rushed elections in spring of 2018, which followed the guidelines of a IFES document on “non-communist” elections in Cuba. The document’s executive summary declares that there need to be “free and fair elections” in Cuba, which have “minimum international norms and standards” along with “honest, efficient and transparent system of election administration.” The 1999 report, which spans more than 140 pages, in whole, declares that: (1) elections of “all candidates and political parties” must be “truly competitive,” (2) special attention be paid to “voting and election rights,” (3) registration is impartial, voting is accessible to all who are registered, every citizen’s vote “should have equal value to that of any other citizen,” and (4) all adult citizens should have the right to be a political candidate or form and/or “join a political group in order to compete in an election” but there can be rare exceptions to this. The report also declares that the following: “there should be equal opportunity of access to the media” and that “all candidates and parties should have equal protection of the law” with restrictions on the rights of a candidate, party or campaign if they have a “demonstrable impact on national security or public order, the protection of public health, morals and safety, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” This report goes on to say that the state must affirm its election responsibilities, political parties should be allowed “the greatest possible freedom consistent with minimum standards of public safety and welfare,” a Code of Conduct should be adopted, any media that is state-controlled should let any “candidates and parties…communicate their views to the electorate without interference” in a privatized “free press.” The transitional government of Cuba followed this report in its fullest dimensions, by “governing de facto without a Constitution” until general elections were held. While some countries, such as Russia and China declared this was authoritarian in nature, the Cuban government scoffed at such remarks, with liberal pundits laughing such characterizations, declaring that Cubans are free at last, free at last, using clips of Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate their points.

Before we get to who was elected, there is an important element to note. Following with the IFES report said about restricting rights of a certain party, candidate or campaign if they impact, presumably negatively, “national security or public order, the protection of public health, morals and safety, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,” the Communist Party of Cuba was banned from fielding candidates. This happened through decrees of defected members of Cuba’s military, paid by the CIA, who had engineered a coup de’tat, in early 2018, which overthrew the communist government. Then, these military men decreed that the Communist Party of Cuba was banned and that elections for the transitional government would occur later that following year. These elections happened without any violence, except toward those who were former supporters of the communist government, because the US government wanted it that way so they could declare that a new transitional Cuban government was duly elected in a democratic manner. However, the elections were just a facade, a way for the companies and the US government to pull the strings in Cuba once again. Clearly, what had unfolded was the coming of what bourgeois analysts called liberal democracy, allowing the United States, Spain and other countries to “play a decisive role in Cuba’s immediate future” as William Ratliff argued in a 2004 report for the Cuban Transition Project. [23]

The people who were elected as part of the transitional government in Cuba were the folks that you would expect. These included Rosa Maria Paya, a recipient of a NED award as a young leader of a likely USAID-backed Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), who declared in April 2013 to NED that “Cuban people do not need external solutions” and that “this is a dangerous moment but it is also a moment of hope…It is time for a referendum, it is time for the truth, it is time for democracy. It´s the time of the Liberation.” [24] As the pundits now agreed, what she had said in 2013 was an utter joke because the Cuban people were being given “external solutions” by USAID, NED, IFES, IRI, BBG, and likely the CIA. One woman, Marisel Trespalacios, a NED fellow, was flown down to Cuba at the expense of the US State Department before the elections, and was elected due to her part in an NGO called Ágora Cuba. Additionally, five “Cuban democracy activists” as NED had called them when each received a “Democracy Award” in 2009, Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez (“Antúnez”), José Daniel Ferrer García , Librado Linares García, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, and Iris Tamara Pérez Aguiler, won political office in this transitional government. [25] Also, Berta Soler, the leader of the Damas de Blanco or Ladies in White who had received a NED “Democracy Service medal” in person, in 2012, was elected. [26] If this wasn’t enough, Mr. Normando Hernández a supposedly independent journalist who co-founded the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, and was a NED fellow, was also elected. Some former dissidents, as the Western world calls them, were elected, like the son of Afro-Cuban Orlando Zapata Tamayo (I don’t know if he has a son, but go with it), along with the co-founder of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, Orlando Gutierrez, Ramon Humberto Colas from Cuba, Antonio Rodiles, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, and Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, and a number of other former “democracy” activists not listed here or here.

The political environment in Cuba also changed, arguably for the worse. The Cuban Democratic Directorate, which worked closely with Carl Gershman, who was a Reaganite and still the acting NED President, applauded the transitional government for recognizing those within their organization for “their historic contribution to the cause of human freedom” along with the demise of “the Castro dictatorship” and “revolutionary and anti-imperialist posturing.” [27] Those “Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs)” that Gershman hated, had been abolished, and the Varela Project was put on a higher pedestal than before, since, as the Directorate noted, the Cuban government had normalized its relations with the Cuban people.” [28] Gershman, in a NED press release, was glad that NED’s awards to the Pro-Democracy Movement in Cuba, as they called it then, had done something, and that “totalitarian Cuba” had come to an end. He also declared that this new government was, like that “democracy reform” movement NED had backed, creating “a democratic future,” while he was glad that there was “greater rights guarantees in Cuba” and that the “harsh dictatorship,” an “authoritarian stronghold,” had its demise just like in Mexico. [29] Gershman also declared that these elections meant that NED wouldn’t need to work inside what his organization had called “a closed, totalitarian system” in order to achieve “political change” and that the number of programs in place would be diminished. He still reasserted NED’s supposed support for “dissidents everywhere who struggle for democracy,” or what they define as democracy, by continuing programs such as “Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program” named after one of NED’s main founders, Ronald Reagan and continuing to issue “alerts” as they deemed fit. Gershman, later, in an interview with the New York Times, laughed at how big unions, big corporations, foundations, and universities backed/sponsored them, which no one had seemed to notice except a few hard-nosed critics. [30]

On top of this, NED put out literature from renowned anti-communist Dr. Mary Speck, who was once a NED fellow, about Cuba’s “consolidation of communist rule.” Other literature quoted the late Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, noting that his claim that he was falsely accused of working for the U$ government and threatening national independence of Cuba, were wrong since his efforts were funded fully by the U$ government, specifically NED and USAID. [31] Around the same time, congressmember Ileana Ros-Lethinen gave an interview in which she declared that “the thugs in Cuba” had been defeated and she, along with other members of Congress, stood “united in solidarity” and supported the Cuban government’s “courageous efforts for democracy.” She also said, in that interview, that now USAID had no reason to fear the government of Cuba restricting its programs and that a “peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba” had finally come.

Despite all of these efforts, the ardent communists and socialists, those who were actually on the side of justice, freedom, liberty, and the Cuban people at-large, were holding huge demonstrations despite the ban in the electoral system on the Cuban Communist Party and repressive measures used against them. There has been mass anger in the streets, some even saying that the 2018 elections were rigged in support of the supposedly democratic forces. There are allies of the communists, who are abroad and on the island, who have considered engaging in another communist revolution to restore what is lost and to return the island to a state of peace and prosperity rather than a playground for the American imperialists and their capitalist buddies. Others fear that Cuba was going back a time when the United States modeled Cuba “as both a miniature of and a complement to the United States.” recreating the island itself “in the image of American liberal capitalism.” [32] Whatever happens, it is abundantly clear that neoliberalism in Cuba in the year 2018 will reign down destruction and lead to benefits for an Amerikan capitalist class, along with other Western investors, but not benefit the Cuban populace.


As a final note in this section, I know that not everything was included in this imagined future, but my idea was to portray what might happen if the U$-backed Cuban opposition took power. I can assure that all of the links to official government sources such as NED, USAID, and so on are summarized to the best of their ability. This is meant to show what those who defend Cuba are up against. The next article in this series will explain more about Cuba in terms of the efforts of imperial destabilization by the murderous Amerikan empire, a historical background, refuting the claim that the Cuban government is “authoritarian,” and generating, hopefully, a fruitful discussion.

Notes

[1] See Nancy Trejos’s article in USA Today titled “Marriott CEO to join Obama in Cuba” (March 17, 2016) and Matt Spetalnick’s article in Reuters titled “AT&T, Starwood, Marriott working on Cuba deals ahead of Obama visit” (March 12, 2016). Also see articles in Politico, Toronto Sun, Fortune, Vox, and numerous others (see here, here, here, here, and here).

[2] See two articles by Victoria Burnett in the New York Times: “American Hotel Brands Move Into Cuba” (Mar. 22, 2016) and “American Firm, Starwood, Signs Deal to Manage Hotels in Cuba” (Mar 19, 2016).

[3] See Julie Creswell’s article in the New York Times: “U.S. Companies Clamor to Do Business in New Cuban Market,” Dec. 18, 2014.

[4] There is a possibility that the members of CropLife America would not be opposed to this either, based on the link on their website about biotech crops (read GMO) introduced in Cuba.

[5] The evidence that the US Chamber of Commerce wants Cuba opened up is very obvious. Its right there on their website: “Dump the Cuba Embargo, Americans Say” (2015); “Letter Supporting H.R. 4645, the “Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act”” (2010); “Submission for the Record to the USITC on Cuba” (2015); “U.S. Chamber Applauds Bill to Lift Cuba Travel Ban” (2009); “Letter Supporting H.R. 874 and S. 428, the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act”” (2009); “With Cuba, Jobs and Opportunity Taking Flight” (2016); Chamber Leads U.S. Delegation to Cuba as Doors and Networks Open” (2015); “U.S. Chamber Testimony Urges End to Embargo on Cuba” (2009); “U.S. Chamber Welcomes Moves to Ease Travel, Trade Restrictions on Cuba” (2016); “Prospects for the Cuban Economy & The Potential of U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Ties”[event] (2016 presumably); “U.S. Chamber Applauds White House for Easing Cuba Travel Ban” (2009); “Donohue Joins House Leaders to Advance Trade with Cuba” (2009); “Testimony on U.S.-China Policy” (2010); “U.S. Chamber’s Donohue to Lead Delegation to Cuba” (2012); “Chamber Welcomes Bill to Ease Farm, Medical Sales to Cuba” (2007); “U.S. Chamber Testifies in Support of Steps to Ease Restrictions on Exports & Travel to Cuba” (2010); “U.S. Chamber Hails Moves to Ease Trade, Travel with Cuba” (2010); “Testimony on “Examining the Status of U.S. Trade with Cuba and its Impact on Economic Growth”” (2009); “U.S. Chamber President Says Cuba Restrictions Must End” (2000); “U.S. Chamber Welcomes Progress in U.S.-Cuba Relations” (2014); “Letter regarding H.R. 4645, the “Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act”” (2010); “Oppose Unilateral Economic Sanctions” (2015); “U.S. Chamber Calls Nethercutt” (2000); “U.S. Chamber Urges Bipartisan Foreign Policy” (2001, mentioned in passing); “How Government Can Really Help Workers” (2000, mentioned in passing); “U.S. Chamber Policy Accomplishments January–December 2015” (2015, mentioned as one short section); “Text of 2016 State of American Business Address” (2016, mentioned in passing); and “Illinois Chamber PAC Dinner Speech” (2002, mentioned in passing).

[6] Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick. The Communist Manifesto/Manifesto of the Communist Party. New York: International Publishers, 2009 (this edition originally published in 1948). 12.

[7] It might seem unthinkable since the Cuban government has not been dislodged or overthrown due to outside meddling either by the United States or Western countries, but it is something that should be considered.

[8] These quotes come from Kennedy’s speech during the U$-induced Cuban missile crisis, in which he spoke of “…the possibility of a genuinely independent Cuba, free to determine its destiny” (page 28) and said: “…to the captive people of Cuba…your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas…[when the Cubans removed Soviet influence then they] shall…be welcomed back to the society of free nations and to the associations of this hemisphere” like the OAS (page 29). Of course, Kennedy is a big liar and knows it since he is really just promoting a policy of imperialist destabilization. More directly, these quotes come from this source: Kennedy, John K. “The Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy’s Address to the Nation (1962).” A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America (ed. William H. Chaffe, Harvard Sitkoff and Beth Bailey). New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 27-8.

[9] Here is the most recent resolution condemning the US embargo of Cuba: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/5

[10] Here are links on the IRI site to their magic poll purporting to show low support for the Cuban government, which any informed observer should be skeptical of or just dismiss as imperialist bunk based on their funders: http://www.iri.org/resource/usa-today-features-iri-cuba-pollhttp://www.iri.org/resource/los-angeles-times-cites-iri-cuba-survey, http://www.iri.org/resource/washington-times-cites-iri-cuba-report, http://www.iri.org/resource/chicago-tribune-cites-iri-cuba-poll, http://www.iri.org/resource/miami-herald-cites-iris-cuba-poll, http://www.iri.org/resource/new-york-times-features-iri-cuba-poll, and http://www.iri.org/resource/iri-releases-survey-cuban-public-opinion

[11] Here’s a list of their reports if you want to read such filth: 1999(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/382.htm), 2000(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/wha/751.htm), 2001(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/wha/8333.htm), 2002(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18327.htm), 2003(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27893.htm), 2004(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41756.htm), 2005(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61723.htm), 2006(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78887.htm), 2007(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100635.htm), 2008(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/wha/119155.htm), 2009(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136108.htm), 2010(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/wha/154501.htm), 2011(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011humanrightsreport/index.htm?dlid=186505#wrapper), 2012(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204441), 2013(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2013&dlid=220434), 2014(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2014humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2014&dlid=236680#wrapper), and 2015(http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2015&dlid=253005#wrapper).

[12] The truth is that we will never truly know, without Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests, who USAID’s grantees are, for the most part. They are basically secret as these two documents show (see here and here). It is true that there is some transparency on this government site, but still not every grantee is revealed. In a chart on the last page of a GAO report it was revealed that USAID, from the period of 1998 to 2005, gave Center for a Free Cuba over $8.3 million, the Directorate over $6.2 million, Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia Inc. [Support Group for Democracy Inc.] over $8.4 million, and Accion Democracia Cubana Inc. [Cuban Democracy Action] over $1.3 million. So, it is possible they received USAID funding, but only a FOIA request could prove if this is more than a hunch. However, they have CLEARLY participated in destabilization efforts. As they noted on their own website, they have reached “out to the dissident community…USAID has helped train hundreds of journalists over the last decade whose work has appeared in major international news outlets” and current USAID partners are the International Republican Institute [$3 million from 2012 to 2016] and Grupo de Apoyo o la Democracia [$3 million from 2012 to 2015].”

[13] The story of ZunZuneo and the USAID’s denials is almost hilarious. There’s USAID’s supposed “eight facts”, defending the program as supposedly creating a “platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves, period” and that USAID’s work on this was “not secret, it is not covert, nor is it undercover.” A report by the Inspector General of USAID admits that ZunZuneo was meant to support “civil society, “was designed…to foster democracy,” and claims that AP was wrong, but also: “the grantee—concerned about the risk that the Cuban Government would discover the U.S. Government’s involvement and shut down the project—took action to conceal the origin of funds and ownership of the platform. Without identifying financial support to sustain ZunZuneo, the project ended in August 2012” and had a number of minor problems. Back to the point of USAID that they claimed they were transparent about ZunZuneo. According to the public data, there is a grant to a “Support Group for Democracy” from Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, Inc to “add incremental funding to support human rights” which lasted from September 2010-September 2012, but this isn’t it. I looked for all programs ending in August 2012 and I couldn’t find one and no results came up when searching for ZunZuneo, so I don’t know what they mean by transparency. I think they are lying when it comes to transparency.

[14] In the 2012 reports, as linked in note 13, and onward, Cuba was called an “authoritarian” state rather than a “totalitarian” one as in all reports previous to this. In contrast, USAID, as recent as this year, has it declared on their website the following: For more than 50 years, Cubans have lived under a totalitarian regime that has severely restricted fundamental freedoms, repressed political opponents, and violated human rights.” Similarly, in a 422-page report, it was noted that “…the United States can help the Cuban people bring about an expeditious end of the Castro dictatorship…part of America’s commitment to stand with the Cuban people against the tyranny of Fidel Castro’s regime…The Castro dictatorship has been able to maintain its repressive grip on the Cuban people…isolate the Castro regime…In concert with efforts to strengthen Cuban civil society, and building on the excellent work already underway by U.S. Government broadcasting entities, the means exist to increase the availability to the Cuban people of reliable information on events in Cuba and around the world and to assist in the effort to present a democratic alternative to the failed policies of the Castro regime…U.S. initiatives should maintain avenues by which Americans can engage the Cuban people…Cuba presents itself internationally as a prime tourist destination, as a center for bio-technological innovation, and as a successful socialist state…The Castro dictatorship is pursuing every means at its disposal to survive and perpetuate itself…Cuba’s transition from the Castro regime to a democratic society with a free economy will be a challenging process.” To me, this indicates right then and there, plainly as anyone can see that the U$ is backing the Cuban opposition which it claims are almost like freedom fighters. To say they aren’t backing the opposition is to be a bad liar.

[15] This sentence is based off quotes from actual documents. In one document, the US State Department declared that “as the only dictatorship and closed society in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba lies at the core of NED’s attention.” In the 2001 annual report, NED declared that “in Cuba, the independent, pro-democracy movement has continued to expand and deepen despite severe repression.” In the 2000 annual report, NED declared that “the Castro regime stepped up its repression of independent civic actors.” In their 1999 report, NED declared that “despite the challenges of and barriers to working within a closed, totalitarian system, over the past seven years NED developed a program that supports a wide variety of independent social actors inside of Cuba, from human rights activists to independent farmers…NED’s work in Cuba began primarily with support for dissidents and human rights activists on the island…a totalitarian state.” In their 1997 report, NED declared that Cuba was “the Hemisphere’s only totalitarian state…significant NED funds were devoted in attempts to break the state monopoly on information and transmit news from the island.” In their 1996 report, NED declared that “Cuba is…the glaring exception to democratic trends.” In their 1995 report, NED declared that “Cuba was the most notable exception…[our funded groups] have overcome the determined efforts of the regime to eliminate them.” In their 1994 report, NED declared that “the Endowment continued to place a high priority on promoting peaceful transition in Cuba.” In their 1993 report, NED declared that “Cuba and Mexico were high priorities for the Endowment.” In their 1992 report, NED declared that there were “remaining authoritarian holdouts, notably Cuba.” In their 1991 report, NED declared that Cuba was “Latin America’s only closed society.”

[16] This sentence is based on two statements of Donahue. The first is a speech in April 2015 when he declared: “…it’s imperative that the Cuban government act quickly to reform its economy and improve its human rights record…Here’s what we really need: We need more trade and investment—operating under transparent and reliable rules—that leverages our strengths, capitalizes on our opportunities, helps us overcome our common challenges, and commits us to relentlessly pursue the one thing we need most—economic growth.” The second is a speech in December 2014 saying that there should be steps to allow “opportunities for free enterprise to flourish” and that “it is imperative that the Cuban government build on today’s positive steps with a more ambitious economic reform agenda at home, while we continue to push for the end of the embargo here in Washington. The Chamber and its members stand ready to assist as the Cuban people work to unleash the power of free enterprise to improve their lives.”

[17] Everything after this sentence comes from quotes and summaries of this USAID report.

[18] There’s one report, by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, with Colin Powell as its chairman. In this May 2004 report, which is addressed to the President, Colin Powell has the first word, declaring that “Cuba alone among the nations of Americas is a dictatorship…We want to help the Cuban people put Castro and Castroism behind them forever,” explains the requirements of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, that a “post-communist” government only received U$ aid if it “legalizes all political activity, releases all political prisoners, publicly commits to organizing free and fair elections within 18 months, and bars Fidel and Raul Castro from any role in a future government.” Basically this means that the social system in Cuba would be utterly destroyed. Powell also claims that “in Cuba’s transition to democracy, we envision and welcome an active role for the Cuban American community” with these horrid exiles “able to provide valuable insights, as well as business acumen and capital, as the citizens of Cuba work to repair the devastation done to the Cuban society and economy by more than forty years of communism.” What he is saying is complete crap and what he mentions about the 1996 law is utterly haunting.

[19] This report is one of the worst by the Cuban Transition Project. Not only are they calling for low wages, but they said point-blank that “painful, though necessary, adjustments in the transition to a market economy should not be delayed because some individuals may be unduly hurt.” The fact that they don’t care if people are hurt, then this just shows how heartless these people are.

[20] Yet again, USAID has a disclaimer (“The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID”) but that doesn’t matter, because regardless of whether they reflect the views of USAID, what is said in this report and many others are principles which are pushed by the US government and corresponding elites. If this wasn’t the case then USAID wouldn’t have funded the Cuban Transition Project in the first place.

[21] One GAO report claims that “Cuban law prohibits citizens from cooperating with U.S. democracy assistance activities authorized under the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, punishable with prison terms of up to 20 years” with the Cuban government accusing “some of these individuals [named in the report] of receiving assistance from USAID grantees.” The report is also revealing in noting in a sense why USAID is so secretive: “Grantee reluctance to share information with other grantees because of concerns about potential Cuban government infiltration of grantee operations. USAID and grantee concerns that sensitive agency records could be disclosed in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.” All in all, this says to me that USAID doesn’t want to be transparent because they are afraid it will disrupt their imperial destabilization.

[22] In the appendix of this report there is an “Outline of a Program for the Restoration of Property Rights by a Democratic Cuban Government” which is 17 pages long, showing that they don’t like the current system of property in Cuba and want something that will favor Western business.

[23] This report is so bad its almost worth laughing at. First off all, Ratliff declares that “Mao Zedong, who denied the realities of human nature and economic common sense, left China in an economic crisis when he died in 1976.” Sounds like a guy who has lived under a rock for too long. He then “predicts” what a post-Castro Cuba would look like, claiming also that “both Castro and Mao were hard-core anti-Marxists” and engaged in “militant anti-Marxism,” whatever the heck that means. Anyway, he goes on to claim that Castro has “long-standing antimarket, egalitarian principles,” argues basically that social programs in Cuba should be cutted, claims like many bourgeois analysis that “the embargo is in many respects a boon to Castro.” He does note at the end that “the U.S. government will have to weigh what is to be gained and/or lost by cooperating or rejecting cooperation with an authoritarian government in the immediate post-Fidel period. Cooperation, should that occur, will require compromises by all involved parties.” In a sense that doesn’t make much sense either.

[24] Elsewhere during her remarks for the 2013 Democracy Award> she declared: “We need to stop this repression. I’m sure that Harold would also receive this prize as a recognition of the rights of all Cubans to live in a free country.”

[25] In 2009, NED held an event for the Democracy Award where these five people spoke, with one of them writing an article titled “A Word from the Opposition” in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Democracy, and there was an event moderated by NED’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Miriam Kornblith titled “Toward a Free Cuba: the Prospect for Democracy after 50 Years of Dictatorship.” Also that year, the Journal of Democracy examined political and social trends in Cuba (with Eusebio MujalLeón, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez,” and Carl Gershman and Orlando Gutierrez— January.” Both are definitely telling. There is also an IRI interview with this Antunez guy, with some hilariously calling him the “Cuban Nelson Mandela” considering that Mandela was wiling to use violence (some even complained that he had renounced it) and, as noted on Orchestrated Pulse, Mandela was imprisoned because, while commander of the insurgent wing of the ANC, he supported violence and sabotage…If we really want to reflect on Mandela’s life, we are going to have to acknowledge the role of revolutionary violence in the anti-apartheid movement…Nelson Mandela was indeed an exceptional man, but let us forever remember him as a rebel, not just a president.  Let’s embrace the truth about his lifelong struggle against apartheid, and fully honor his many sacrifices.”

[26] In 2011, NED honored, in their words, “Laura Pollán, the founder of Cuba’s Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White)…The ceremony included a video link to Laura’s husband and daughter in Cuba, as well as remarks from Members of Congress Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The Medal was accepted by Yolanda Huerga on behalf of Las Damas de Blanco.” If that’s not significant, I don’t know what is. This was also noted in the NED’s president’s report that year.

[27] Eerily enough Gershman predicts/foresees this scenario in part in his speech in which he says: “if the regime amends its laws to hold an election after Castro steps down in 2018, then let us insist that it be a real election, free and fair, with the opposition being able to organize and campaign, with a level playing field, and with the whole process monitored by international observers…Cuban democrats deserve the support of the global democracy movement.  Because of the poisonous role that Cuba has played in international politics for more than half a century, a democratic breakthrough in Cuba will have a very broad impact.” If that doesn’t sound hostile to the current Cuban government and calling for destabilization, I don’t know what is.

[28] This is based off what Gershman declared in a horrid Washington Post piece recently. As for the link about CDRs, what it says about the CDRs counters his obvious hate: “Seeking to shape a new society, the government strongly fostered cooperative activities in neighborhoods and in the work place. Neighbors cleaned up streets and parks, encouraged recycling of materials, and helped in mass vaccination campaigns. Workers built housing units next to their work places. Committees for the Defense of the Revolution were formed in each neighborhood to ensure that all activities were focused on the preservation of the Revolution’s gains.” That doesn’t sound like a bad idea after all to be honest. After all, there is evidence that CDRs have worked to confront medical outbreaks, and maybe inspired Correa in Ecuador to defend his leftist government by having local committees formed to defend the revolution.

[29] The words “harsh dictatorship” are based on what he said in a 2008 report (“…an international campaign for human rights in Cuba…Harsh dictatorships such as those in North Korea Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and Zimbabwe have demonstrated a ruthless ability to hold onto power despite the suffering and economic devastation  they have inflicted on their respective populations”), a 2005 message(“…dictatorships like Cuba, Burma, North Korea, and Syria”), a 2009 message (“Cuba is another vulnerable dictatorship, with an aging and ideologically exhausted leadership, a failed economy, and a growing grassroots opposition movement of young people, women, workers and intellectuals, as well as the marginalized Afro-Cubans who comprise a majority of the population), a 2013 message (“It has not been just dictatorships like China and Cuba that have mounted this resistance, but also partially-open, hybrid states like Venezuela and Azerbaijan where regimes use formal democratic procedures to legitimate authoritarian power…the Campaign for Another Cuba”). The evidence shows that the PRI dictatorship in Mexico wasn’t completely eliminated by the 2000 presidential elections anyhow and that many elements remain. One could argue that the Mexican government still is authoritarian. Others have fell in line with Gershman. These included Samuel Huntington, who, on pages 21-22 of the Journal of Democracy in Spring 1999, claimed Cuba the movement toward “democracy” “might occur in Cuba” if the Soviet Union stopped giving aid, which didn’t happen, and that Cuba was a “Marxist-Leninist regime…produced by [a] home-grown revolution” (21-2). A NED strategy document in 2012 also said the following “NED will continue and, wherever possible, increase its support to democrats in countries such as Burma, Cuba, China, and Uzbekistan, improving their access to information and expanding political space…Over the years, it has not only assisted exile groups but also developed effective ways, consistent with the requirements of grant oversight, to provide concrete support to activists working inside the toughest dictatorships – countries such as Burma, China, Cuba, and Uzbekistan.” Then there’s a NED report on Russia from last year that declare that “aside from outliers such as Cuba, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, today’s authoritarian regimes don’t seek total media domination. Instead they opt for ‘effective media control’—enough for them to convey their strength and puff up their claims to legitimacy while undermining potential alternatives.”

[30] What I’m referring to here is their sponsors, who funds them, which is noted in the following links: https://web.archive.org/web/20160330190054/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2013-sponsors.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330181607/http://www.ned.org/docs/11annual/NED-2011-Annual-Report-Sponsors.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330182031/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/Sponsors2010.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330183028/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/sponsors09.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330183555/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/annualreports/2008/PDFs/AR_Sponsors08.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330183924/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/annualreports/2007/PDFs/AR_Sponsors07.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330184323/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/annualreports/2006/sponsors06.pdfhttps://web.archive.org/web/20160330184629/http://www.ned.org/wp-content/uploads/annualreports/2005/sponsors05.pdf

[31] He also claimed that “we want to be – and always will be – an independent country, and we do not wish to live any other way. But we also do not know how to – nor can we, nor do we want to – live without freedom. We never chose this regime that oppresses us and leaves us without rights…No tyrannical power, nor group of powers, can make us abandon this path…If you wish to support our people, support with your voice and with your heart the path of peace and reconciliation that leads us unmistakably to freedom and to the rights that we Cubans want for ourselves.” As anyone knows, this is total bullshit.

[32] Weber, Cynthia. Faking It: U.S. Hegemony in a “Post-Phallic” Era. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. 19. Weber also writes in her strange, queer theory book that imperial domination lasted since “U.S. victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898…which for a short time made Cuba a territory of the United States, the United States shaped Cuba militarily (by military rule from 1899 to 1902), politically (with Cuban constitutions simulating that of the United States), and economically (through a reciprocal economic treaty).” She also noted that “there is another side to Cuba, that of U.S. complement. In this respect, Cuba appeared in the U.S. imaginary not just as a lesser feminized copy of America but as iconically feminine.” I won’t get into her interpretations of certain aspects of U$ foreign policy in ways that still confuse me and seem weird, but I think she is completely right about imperialist domination, which is why I use her in this article.